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A 19-year-old female asked about a 26-year-old member:

root canal tomorrow on bottom molar, scared of throat being numb, does the lidocaine numb whole mouth or just area around tooth? or alternatives?

10 doctor answers18 doctors weighed in
Dr. Crystal Twynham
General Surgery 33 years experience
Usually just jawbone: Your tooth is rooted in and grows from the jawbone, where the nerves also come from. The numbing covers the jawbone, tooth, surrounding gums, and often cheek, face, lip, or chin. If an upper tooth, even your nose! Your throat will be unaffected. You will be able to breath and swallow normally afterwards. Tell your dentist about your concerns and fears. You will do well!!! Good luck!
Dr. William Jenkins
Specializes in Anesthesiology
Not the whole mouth: But more than just around tooth, including lip and cheek. The alternative would be general anesthesia but that wears off pretty quickly when surgery done and you would have too much pain. The numbing medicine will last hours afterwards and is better than narcotics
Dr. Theodore Davantzis
Dentistry 40 years experience
Relax: Your throat will not be affected. The jaw on whatever side you are having work done will be numb, including the teeth, your lower lip, and half your tongue. This may last about an hour or an hour and a half. Great thing is you won't feel any pain.
Dr. Gary Sandler
Dentistry 54 years experience
RCT numbness: This is a very common & routine procedure. The local anesthesia numbs the tooth along with the lower jaw, tongue, gums and lip on that side only. The nerves to the throat are NOT affected. It feels funny at first and only lasts 1-4 hours. Actually it's a blessing as you feel no pain for the procedure. Alternatives while possible are more invasive and have more risk. Fear replaced by comfort.
Dr. Paul Grin
Dr. Paul Grin answered
Pain Management 36 years experience
No worry: Making painless treatment a priority in the clinical practice by every dentist. Thankfully, modern anesthetics allow root canal treatments to be done pain-free. With lidocaine, nitrous oxide, and anxiolitics (eg Traizolam) root canal is very easy to perform.
Dr. Stephen Gordon
Dentistry 43 years experience
Depends: Since it's a lower tooth-- Only the 1/2 of your lower jaw and tongue (on the side with the tooth to be worked on) will be numb. You will have numb teeth, cheek, gums, and tongue on that side only. To perform a root canal treatment would never necessitate your throat being numb.
Dr. Kenneth Grossman
Endodontics 44 years experience
No throat numbness!: the nerves we anesthetize for a lower molar root canal will numb your jaw,tongue,and gum tissue on that side of the mouth! Your throat wii not be numb!
Dr. Anthony Pollizzi
Anesthesiology 36 years experience
Root canal: No it will only numb a portion of your gum.
Dr. Sandra Eleczko
Dentistry 36 years experience
Root canal: you will be numb on the side that the root canal is on Your throat will not be numb and you will be able to swallow. You will feel much better once the root canal has been completed.
Dr. Louis Gallia
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 45 years experience
Just tooth. Sedation: Just tooth. If anxious, ask dentist for oral sedation.

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Last updated Jul 3, 2015
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