help with numbing



Junior member
Jun 18, 2010
All my life I have had trouble getting numb. I usually go without anesthetic as it doesn't work. Recently I had two cavities filled in my right lower teeth and had an injection in the back of the teeth area and in the cheek. My tongue on the right side was completely numb, but my lip never went numb and I felt the whole filling. Could I have a problem with my nerve anatomy as this seems to be a problem with multiple dentists that I have been to? I was given three injections and he waited an hour for me to try to get numb. I wasn't particularly anxious and he was aware of my previous problems with getting numb. Thanks!


Super Moderator
Staff member
Mar 23, 2006
I expect so as per:

but it is also possible that they just haven't used the right techniques to get you numb...even hot infected teeth can be got numb with the right approach. With anatomical variation they need to identify where your nerves are and inject accordingly - may need a special x-ray.
You need to find a dentist who wants to solve this and who knows advanced techniques...I'm concerned they went ahead anyway...after you'd been honest upfront. Mandibular blocks at the back of the mouth have a pretty high failure rate even in competent hands hence why more and more dentists seem to be using other techniques more. It's very easy for those blocks to be 'missed'. Dentists should not be working on you if you are not numb..there are other options. It is very sad that so many seem to think that this is still an ok approach to care.

You need a more competent caring experienced dentist who gives a damn and you have my total sympathy. Your other option would be to be sedated although finding someone who doesn't need to resort to this would be better.
Please don't keep suffering needlessly - if you are in the USA endodontists and oral surgeons are much more likely to know advanced techniques or look for someone who advertises painfree care if hard to numb etc.
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Well-known member
Verified dentist
Nov 6, 2005
i take it that this issue has only ever been with lower back teeth?
my guess is that the nerve is slightly higher than in most people- so the anaesthetics never get to it.
make sure you tell any future dentists this before they start. they may use a slightly different approach to the normal 'id block' technique such as a 'Gow-Gates' or 'Akinosi' technique- either of which would likely solve your problem. Also- a dentist who uses 'the wand' may be a good idea. Often by using the wand- it is possible to numb lower back teeth without the need for any block type techniques.
dr mike