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What is the Buccal Nerve?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

You're probably familiar with the function of your nervous system. Your nerves send and receive sensory and motor function information to and from your brain. But what may not be as clear is where exactly your buccal nerve is. Once you discover that "buccal" refers to your cheek, suddenly everything becomes a bit more clear. We'll let you know more about this nerve, how it may affect you, and how it helps your dental professional give you pain-free oral care to keep you smiling.

What Does the Buccal Nerve Do?

Your buccal nerve is a sensory nerve that sends neurons to your brain, allowing you to register feeling in your cheek, the side of your gums closest to your jaw, and your 2nd and 3rd molars (the molars that are furthest back in your mouth.)

How Does the Buccal Nerve Affect Your Oral Health?

If you feel pain or sensitivity in the area of your buccal nerve, you may have a condition that requires treatment from a dental or healthcare professional. If you feel pain in your mouth, make a visit with your dental professional right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Your buccal nerve also sends signals to your brain when you receive certain dental treatments that can cause pain. Luckily, your dental professional can use an anesthetic so that you don't feel any pain during your treatment.

What Is the Importance of the Buccal Nerve During Dental Treatment?

In recent decades, various local anesthetics have revolutionized dentists' ways of turning off pain receptors in a specific area of your mouth. When you receive dental treatment that affects your cheek area inside your mouth or your molars, your dental professional can use an anesthetic to ensure you don't experience any unnecessary anxiety or pain.

According to an evaluation published in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry, lidocaine has been the most commonly used local anesthetic in the US since 1948 and is labeled the "gold standard" due to its "efficacy, low allergenicity, and minimal toxicity." Articaine is another anesthetic that is commonly used.

What to Expect From Local Anesthesia

Because various procedures can require numbing in the area of your buccal nerve, your dental professional will best be able to explain what exactly you can expect from your dosage and your specific procedure. It's a good idea to check with your medical professional to ensure you won't have any adverse drug interactions and that local anesthetics won't negatively affect any medical conditions you currently have. The liver and kidneys process anesthetics, so if you have any medical conditions concerning these organs, seek your medical professional's advice.

After receiving a local anesthetic near your buccal nerve, pay special care to the numbed area to not injure your tissue. Normal biting or chewing could injure your soft tissue when you don't have any sensation in your cheek.

How Long Do Anesthetics Last After Dental Work?

It usually takes 30 to 60 minutes for the numbness near your buccal nerve to go away, but it can last for hours. Everyone responds differently to anesthesia. Your dental professional will make sure the right dosage is administered so you can stay as comfortable as possible through the entire procedure and can provide a more precise estimate for regaining full sensation in your cheek. Give them a call if you're concerned about any lingering numbness.

How to Make Numbness Wear Off Faster

The numbing effects wear off when your blood carries the anesthetic away in the bloodstream. Usually, this happens pretty quickly, but you might want to speed things up. If that's the case, talk to your dentist about the following options:

  • Go for a walk
    Increasing your blood flow should help the numbness disappear faster, so do something physical like walking or bike riding. Make sure you get your dentist's sign off before attempting any strenuous activity. Many procedures require an extended rest period.
  • Ask about a reversal medication
    Your dentist can administer an injection to reverse the effects of the local anesthetic. However, this medication often costs extra and is not covered by insurance.

Other home remedies recommend massaging your cheek area or applying a warm compress to help increase blood flow. However, check with your dentist before touching the treatment site so you don't cause unnecessary harm.

Now that you know more about your buccal nerve, how it can help you identify oral conditions that are developing in your mouth, and how it can be helpful in receiving pain-free dental treatment, we hope you feel more comfortable and confident going into your dental professional's office if you have a procedure scheduled. We hope your experience is comfortable and that you come out smiling. You can do this!


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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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