Local anaesthesia, or as commonly called ‘freezing’, is the most important aspect of painless dentistry. The drugs work at the site where pain signals originate and prevent them from reaching the body’s nervous system.
Local anaesthesia is different from sedation (commonly known as or ‘being knocked out’ or ‘going under’). Sedation primarily works to reduce the brain’s experience of pain, while local anaesthetics prevent the pain from ever reaching the brain. Sedation and local anaesthesia serve two different and complementary functions in making the dental experience comfortable. However, for most dental treatments, local anaesthesia alone is sufficient for providing a comfortable and pain-free experience.
Local anaesthetic drugs have a variety of properties that make each suitable for a different situation. At Soleil Dental Centre, we offer the following classes of local anaesthetics:
- Long-lasting local anaesthetics are used for longer treatments, and when some pain is expected after the appointment. They can maintain the freezing for a long time until the tissue has settled down and most of the pain, that would otherwise be felt, has resolved.
- Short-duration local anaesthetics are useful for minimally invasive and quick treatments. They will wear off quickly so the patient feels normal shortly after the appointment.
- Deep-acting local anaesthetics are used for invasive treatments, such as wisdom tooth extractions, where deeper layers of tissue require freezing.
- Blood-clotting local anaesthetics are used when increased bleeding is expected from a surgical site. They reduce blood flow to the area. This causes the faster formation of clots therefore reducing the overall bleeding and would result is faster post-operative healing.
- We can also quickly ‘unfreeze’ any of the above if required. But it needs a second injection to do so. It is not commonly done, but sometimes, for example, when a steak is in the plans for right after the appointment, it becomes beneficial to walk out of the clinic completely unfrozen.
In the early to mid-1900s, dentists used to charge an additional fee for local anaesthetics; but nowadays, they are commonly included in dental treatments at no extra charge. This is irrespective of how much, and which type of, a local anaesthetic is required to ensure a pain-free experience for patients.