Novocaine Side Effects to Watch For

Dentists often use a local anesthetic like novocaine when performing procedures such as cavity filling and tooth extraction. Most of the time, this anesthetic will not cause the patient any worrisome problems; however, as with any medication, the potential for side effects is there. Before undergoing a dental procedure, you should talk with your dentist about what to expect, especially if there are any warning signs to watch out for. That way, you'll know if you need to call your dentist or head back to the office for additional treatment. Fortunately, novocaine side effects are usually mild and not cause for alarm.

Allergic Reaction

People who are sensitive to novocaine may experience an allergic reaction, which can range in severity. If you've successfully used novocaine before, it is less likely that you'll suffer an allergic reaction than someone who has never been exposed to it. If this is your first time encountering novocaine, let your dentist know so he can monitor you for symptoms. The signs of an allergic reaction are usually limited to the area of your mouth where the local anesthesia is applied and may consist of swelling, or even in severe cases trouble breathing.

Central Nervous System Reaction

In some cases, novocaine can interfere with the normal functioning of your central nervous system. Your dentist should thoroughly review your medical history to discover any pre-existing medical conditions and determine the correct dosage. Nervousness and dizziness in the central nervous system as well as respiratory failure can occur if too much novocaine is administered. Your dentist will be able make the right judgement to provide successful treatment and avoid serious novocaine side effects.

What Your Dentist Can Do

Your dentist should be aware of the side effects of novocaine so he can discuss them with you before treatment. He also knows what to look for if you are having a reaction during a procedure so he can take proper measures to keep you safe. Should you exhibit any of the side effects of novocaine during a procedure, your dentist may either stop and recommend medical care or continue and choose a different type of local anesthetic once the novocaine wears off. If such a problem occurs, your dentist should also make note of it in your dental chart for future dental procedures.


This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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  1. Preparation – If you need local anesthesia, your dentist will dry part of your mouth with air or use cotton rolls. Then your dentist will swab the area with a gel to numb the skin.

  2. Injection – Next, your dentist will slowly inject the local anesthetic into the gum tissue. Most people don't feel the needle. Instead, the sting they feel is caused by the anesthetic moving into the tissue.

  3. After effects – An injection of local anesthesia can last up to several hours. After you leave the dentist's office, you may find it difficult to speak clearly and eat or drink. Be careful not to bite down on the area that is numbed. You could cause damage to yourself without realizing it.