How long takes for the anesthetic to wear off?

Are you scheduled for a dental procedure and have questions about anesthesia? About 10 to 30% of people have anxiety and pain concerns about dental procedures. Anxiety can delay treatment and this can make the problem worse.

Anesthetics have been around for over 175 years! In fact, the first recorded procedure with an anesthetic was performed in 1846 using ether. We have come a long way since then, and anesthetics are an important tool to help patients feel comfortable during dental procedures. With so many different options available, anesthesia can be confusing.

What are the types of dental anesthetics?

Anesthesia means lack or loss of sensation. This can be with or without consciousness. There are many options available today for dental anesthetics. Medications can be used alone or in combination for better effect. It is individualized for a safe and successful procedure.

The type of anesthetic used also depends on the person’s age, state of health, length of procedure and any past adverse reactions to anesthetics. Anesthetics work in different ways, depending on what is being used. Anesthetics can be short-acting when applied directly to an area or can work for longer periods when more involved surgery is needed.

The success of dental anesthesia depends on:

  • the anesthetic used
  • anesthetized area
  • procedure
  • individual factors

For local anesthesia, the teeth in the lower jaw (mandibular) section of the mouth are harder to anesthetize than the teeth in the upper jaw (jaw).

There are three main types of anesthesia: local, sedative, and general. Each has specific uses. They can also be combined with other medicines.

Local anesthesia

Local anesthesia is used for simpler procedures, such as filling the cavity, which requires a shorter time to complete, and is generally less complicated. You will be aware and able to communicate when you receive a local anesthetic. The area will be numb, so you won’t feel any pain.

Most local anesthetics have a rapid effect (within 10 minutes) and last between 30 and 60 minutes. Sometimes a vasopressor, such as epinephrine, is added to the anesthetic to increase its effect and prevent the anesthetic from spreading to other areas of the body.

Local anesthetics are also available as a prescription in the form of gel, ointment, cream, spray, patch, liquid and injectable forms. They can be used topically (applied directly to the affected area for numbness) or injected into the treated area. Sometimes mild sedation is added to local anesthetics to help relax a person.


Sedation has several levels and is used to relax a person who may have anxiety, may be in pain or may be kept motionless for the procedure. It can also cause procedural amnesia.

You may be fully aware and able to respond to commands, semi-consciously or barely consciously. Sedation is classified as mild, moderate, or profound.

Deep sedation can also be called monitored anesthetic care or MAC. In deep sedation, you are generally unaware of your surroundings and can only respond to repeated or painful stimulation.

The medicine can be given orally (tablet or liquid), inhaled, intramuscularly (IM) or intravenously (IV).

There are several risks with IV sedation. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration should be closely monitored in moderate to deep sedation.

General anesthesia

General anesthesia is used for longer procedures or if you have a lot of anxiety that could interfere with your treatment. You will be completely unconscious, you will not have pain, your muscles will be relaxed and you will have amnesia after the procedure.

The drug is administered through a face mask or IV. The level of anesthesia depends on the procedure and the individual patient. There are different risks with general anesthesia.

What are the side effects of dental anesthesia?

The side effects of dental anesthesia depend on the type of anesthetic used. General anesthesia has more risks involved in its use than local anesthesia or sedation. Reactions also vary depending on individual factors. Some side effects reported with sedation and general anesthesia medications include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • headache
  • sweating or chills
  • hallucinations, delirium or confusion
  • slurred speech
  • dry mouth or sore throat
  • pain at the injection site
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • numbness

These are some of the reported side effects of anesthetics. Talk to your dental care team about your specific medications and any concerns you may have about the medication.

How long does the anesthesia last?

With most local anesthetics, the tooth will be numb for 2-3 hours, while the lips and tongue will be numb for 3-5 hours after the injection. As the bloodstream removes the anesthetic from the injection site to be metabolized or broken down, the numbness will gradually disappear.

During this time, it is important that you do not suffer any damage to the numb area. One of the reasons you are told to rest and relax after any anesthetic procedure is that being active or engaging in any form of strenuous physical activity makes the anesthetic effects go away faster. Your dentist may prescribe painkillers, especially if you experience a lot of pain after the anesthetic is gone.

Small doses of anesthetic are eliminated immediately after the end of the operation, while after a general anesthesia, it begins to disappear slowly, after an hour.

The situation is complicated in case of complex interventions, in this case being necessary even 2-3 days for the elimination of anesthetic substances from the body. And in this situation, you will need water in large quantities to remove all the chemical residues from the body.

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