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Side Effects of Dental Anesthesia

author image Adam Cloe Ph.D./M.D.
Adam Cloe has been published in various scientific journals, including the "Journal of Biochemistry." He is currently a pathology resident at the University of Chicago. Cloe holds a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Boston University, a M.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago.
Side Effects of Dental Anesthesia
Dental work may make anesthesia necessary.

Dental work often involves the extraction of teeth or cutting into the oral tissue. Because this can be painful dentists typically use anesthetics to diminish the pain at the time of the operation. Most dentists use local anesthesia, which is the injection of agents that temporarily numb the nerves. Some dentists also use nitrous oxide, an inhaled gas that diminishes consciousness reducing pain during the operation.

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Toothpaste company Colgate indicates that one potential side effect of dental anesthesia is the development of hematomas. Many dental anesthetics are given via injection. If the needle punctures or nicks a vessel blood can seep and collect below the surface of the skin or the gum tissue. This can lead to swelling. Although painful, hematomas are not considered dangerous.


Local anesthetics for dental procedures are designed to numb the nearby tissue. Because it takes time for these to wear off, you may experience temporary paralysis or numbness in your mouth or face. This can cause your eyelids or part of the face to droop. It can also make speech or eating difficult. You are also advised to be careful when moving your mouth because it is easy to inadvertently bite the cheeks or tongue.

CNS Toxicity

According to the Mayo Clinic, in some cases the compounds used for dental anesthesia rapidly travel to the bloodstream and are absorbed by the body. This primarily affects the brain, leading to toxicity of the central nervous system (CNS). CNS toxicity can cause unusual excitability and irritability coupled with a rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing. It can also cause increased sweating and paleness, as well as the sensation of being hot or cold. Patients can also develop double vision, confusion and in extreme situations, convulsions or seizures.

Nitrous Oxide Side Effects

According to the journal Medical Toxicology, nitrous oxide can cause a number of side effects. If too much is used, it can cause hypoxia, which is a subnormal amount of oxygen in the blood. One sign of hypoxia is dizziness resulting from low oxygen flow to the brain. It can also cause air filled portions of the body to expand, so it should not be used if you have bowel obstructions, sinus or middle ear problems or a collapsed lung. Finally, nitrous oxide impairs your body's ability to use vitamin B12, which is needed for cell replication. As a result it can cause anemia and low white blood cell counts to develop.

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