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The Side Effects of Numbing Medicine for Teeth Fillings

By Megan Allyce Snider ; Updated July 27, 2017

Dentists use local anesthetics while filling a tooth because they numb a specific area of the mouth rather than numbing the whole mouth. Sometimes, nitrous oxide is included to help the patient relax during the procedure. Like all serious medical procedures done with anesthesia, the patient might experience side effects. Before having any dental procedure done, it's useful for the patient to understand some of the possible effects.

Lidocaine

As with any anesthetic, lidocaine can have minor, mild or even serious side effects depending on the patient’s allergies, prescription and non-presription medicine use, age and overall health. After receiving lidocaine, one might feel lightheaded, nervous, euphoric, confused, dizzy, have ringing in the ears, cold, nauseated or experience double vision. Other side effects include vomiting, sensations of heat, cold or numbness, twitching, tremors, convulsions, unconsciousness, respiratory depression and possible cardiac arrest. A slow heart rate, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular collapse could lead to cardiac arrest.

Prilocaine

Some common side effects of prilocaine include itching, nausea with or without vomiting, drowsiness, back pain and constipation. Rare conditions caused by prilocaine can be red and raised swellings on the skin, lips, tongue or in the throat, rapid heart rate, restlessness, unusual tiredness or weakness, difficulty opening the mouth, inability to control bowel movements or urine, sexual dysfunction, leg paralysis, persistent numbness and prolonged numbness or tingling in lips and mouth, shivering sensations, skin rash, tingling, bluish lips and fingernails, breathing problems, chest pain, seizures, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, fever, headache, irregular heartbeat, pale skin, troubled breathing, unusual bleeding or bruising, and unusual tiredness or weakness.

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Mepivacaine

The most common reactions to Mepivacaine are nausea, vomiting, anxiety, sweating, confusion, blurred vision, having a metallic taste in mouth ringing ears, and faintness. More dangerous side effects are shallow breathing, slowed heart rate, weak pulse, tremors and seizures.

Bupivacaine

Less severe side effects of bupivacaine include nausea, vomiting, anxiety, ringing in ears, speech problems, numbness in mouth, and headache. More serious effects are shallow breathing, gasping, a sensation of heat in body, fainting, slow heart rate, weak pulse, problems with urination and sexual dysfunction.

Articaine

Side effects of articaine that are less serious are tongue or mouth swelling, vomiting, constipation, unpleasant taste in mouth, ear, neck, joint or muscle pain, dizziness, mild skin rashes, runny nose, upset stomach, itching, mouth sores and sore throat. Serious side effects require medical treatment as soon as possible. They include swollen and bleeding gums, seizures, light-headedness, slow pulse and heart rate, confusion or anxiety, ringing in ears and facial swelling.

Use Caution

Anesthetics can carry dangers and complications with their use. If you experience any of the serious symptoms, be sure to seek medical treatment. Serious side effects are rare, but they have the potential to occur to anyone.

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