Anesthetics and Loss of Control – Why You Should Not Worry

Scared of Passing out on the dentists’ chair? Don’t be. Usually, for regular procedures, they use local anesthetics that work on a specific area. On the other hand, general anesthetics, which work on overall consciousness, are kept for specific procedures. Want to know how long does anesthesia last?
First, we shall briefly discuss what anesthesia is and its types.


Anesthesia is often referred to as a procedure that uses the class of drugs known as anesthetics. Anesthetics are chemical agents that cause loss of sensation, including pain. The words, anesthesia and anesthetics are interchangeable.
Anesthesiologists are specialists that handle the induction and stabilization of a patient undergoing anesthesia. However, if it is a small procedure, such as simple tooth extraction, your dentist is qualified to do it.

How Does Anesthesia Work?

Scientifically, it involves inhibition of nerve impulses to the brain and lots of receptors. Honestly, that’s too much to take in and not our cup of tea. Simply put, anesthetics stop the transfer of impulses or nerve signals to your brain. No signals, no pain!
In case of local anesthetics, the block is limited to a specific area. Regional anesthesia is similar to local anesthesia, just the site of action is larger.
General anesthesia and sedation, both work on the entire body with different levels of loss of consciousness. Details discussed further


There are two main classes of anesthetics, subdivided in two more categories.

Local Anesthesia

Mostly, this kind of anesthetic is used for short-term numbing of a specific area. The numbing lasts from about a few hours to minutes, depending on the need and procedure. Local anesthetics are mostly used in dental procedures like tooth extraction, root canal, etc. An example of this category is Lidocaine.

Regional Anesthesia

The entire region, particularly the bottom half of the body, loses pain reception. Its mechanism is just like that of local, but the area covered is larger. Procedures involving this kind of loss of sensation are done via injecting the anesthetic into the spinal cord.

General Anesthesia

Most people perceive that there is only one kind of anesthesia which is general. It works by cutting the consciousness of the whole body. General anesthetic is used in moderate to complex procedures when losing consciousness, on the whole, is desired—for example, leg amputation, skin grafting surgery, etc. General anesthetics can last for long hours depending on the surgery inducted via mouth gas or IV drip. Examples are Isoflurane and Sevoflurane (by mouth gas)


Sedation is an intermediate between general and local anesthetic, but more like general since it affects the whole body. Also referred to as monitoring anesthesia care, it lasts according to the amount used. It can be used for light unconsciousness during an eye procedure where the patient can respond to questions but would not feel pain. To deep sedation where the person is unconscious but can breathe independently. E.g., Propofol

How long does Anesthesia Last for Dental Procedures

Mostly, anesthetics are locally applied for dental procedures. Lidocaine, for example, is used during root canal extraction. Local anesthetics do not take long to wear off. It may last from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the area and procedure.
If it’s injected into the gums for a specific tooth, then its effect is going to last for two to three hours. On the other hand, if used on the tongue or even lips, numbing will stay on for at least three to five hours.
The blood flow from the injection site gradually takes away and breaks down the anesthetic component which helps in fading the numbing sensation.


For dental procedures, dentists at Kids 4ever Pediatric Dentistry in Houston, TX have adequate knowledge to choose the appropriate anesthetic for your child. It would be best not to worry about the effects during and after the procedure. For more information or an appointment, please call 832 300 8444.

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