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Insufficient numbing lower jaw



Junior member
Nov 7, 2022
40 years ago I had all 4 wisdom teeth extracted. The upper 2 were removed without a hitch. Then the problems started with the lower two. It took 6 shots of Novocain on the left to get that side numb. After 10 shots on the right, and with the tooth already broken (nobody told me they'd be taking a hammer to my teeth!), they couldn't hit the nerve AT ALL. They had me so pumped up with laughing gas they were afraid to give me any more. I know this because they talked over me the whole time as if I wasn't even there. "We should have done this under general anesthesia" says Thing 1 to Thing 2. "What are we going to do now? It's already half out." "Just keep working on it til she starts to scream, then give her more laughing gas." says Thing 2 to Thing 1.

And that's what they did. Thereafter, whenever I needed work on my lower jaw, I ALWAYS had some level of pain. I just toughed it out because I didn't know there was any other way.

Well I'm way too old for that sh** now. I got to thinking, what with all the ads for "painless dentistry" all over the place, that I could just have them put me fully to sleep next time. Well the time for "next time" has come and gone and I am finding out that there is not really any such thing as "painless dentistry". These clowns don't actually put ANYONE out. They give you valium and laughing gas and call it good. They have someone come in once a month, or sometimes just once every TWO months, to do general anesthesia. The only dentists here who do general anesthesia are oral surgeons and they will only pull teeth, they won't do fillings, crowns, bridges, or root canals.

In desperation I started googling about "insufficient numbing of the lower jaw" only to find out that it is not a particularly rare phenomenon. You wouldn't know that from the way I've been treated for the past 40 years. My last visit to a dentist - 8 years ago - I warned him that my lower jaw was extremely difficult to numb. He just pooh-poohed me. He did get it pretty numb (I forget how many shots it took) but I still felt some pain. On the plus side - for him, not me - I was used to having to tough it out throughout the years so I just did. Except I was making all these little mild grunting noises because it freakin' hurt. It has hurt worse at times in the past, but it still wasn't great. He started berating me for making noises because it was "annoying" him, and it couldn't possibly hurt after all the shots he gave me. Then he twisted my lip - which actually WAS numb, but not wherever he was poking with the drill - and said if I couldn't feel that, I couldn't feel anything, it was just "pressure" and I should stop being so dramatic. You know. Because us wimmins is jest so wimpy, whiny, and demanding for no reason. Which is how nearly every medical doctor has treated me for decades (only to find out I have Addison's disease just this past summer, something I had ASKED to have looked into and just got laughed at).

So when my next appointment came up I had a bad cold and cancelled it. Then it just got easier and easier to put off going back. Plus I was really very ill with the as-then undiagnosed Addison's disease. I got so sick (had an Addisonian crisis) that my son had to come over 1300 miles to get me. By that time I hadn't driven for over a year and had been totally isolated through the worst of the pandemic, including having had Covid in Jan/Feb of 2020 right at the beginning when nobody was talking about it yet. Things were very bad, and the whole dentist thing just got totally pushed away. Things were still pretty bad for nearly another year after arriving back here where my son lives, until this past summer when I finally saw an endocrinologist and got the diagnosis of Addison's, which I had been struggling with for decades. Once I got treatment for that, it was a real Rip Van Winkle experience, like waking up after 30+ year sleep only to find myself old.

Time to get my teeth seen to at last, thunk I. Then I found out the above, that there is no such thing around here as going to sleep to get your teeth worked on, unless the work is extraction. That was my big hope.

So I started googling, like I said, and found out that this is a thing for a lot of people and there are alternative ways to try to administer the local anesthetic that might help my situation. Only I don't REALLY know what all those ways are, I have one name - "intraosseous injection" - to latch onto and the general concept. Only I can't get past the receptionists to ask the local dentists if any of them know how to do these procedures, let alone if they are proficient in them. They keep telling me they will give me valium to calm me down. I don't NEED to be calmed down. I NEED to find out if the dentist knows how to handle my condition, where there is bone in the way of getting to the nerves in my lower jaw. Plus I can't take valium anyway, it makes me sick. But they won't ask the dentist and call me back to let me know. They just repeat nonsense about "calming me down".

I even asked my son to call and talk to them, thinking surely he could get past them to find this out for at least ONE dentist. No such luck - he's locked out as well. He can't get any cooperation or information either.

Now it has been 4 months since I started actively searching for a dentist and discovered being put under for dental work is not a thing here in the US, and a month and a half since I found out about alternative methods of administering local anesthetics for dental procedures, and starting last Wed my teeth began to seriously hurt. This morning my lower right lip has gone all pins and needles and burning. And the pain from what I am sure is an abscess by now (and I TOLD every receptionist we called last week that I had an abscess, multiple broken teeth, bad fillings, cavities, and probably would need a root canal) is intense. Almost as intense as having a wisdom tooth pulled without benefit of anesthesia.

How in the name of god does anyone get past the receptionists to find out if there is a dentist who can handle this kind of thing? Am I REALLY just supposed to play Russian Roulette with my teeth? I had such hope, first when I thought I could get "painless dentistry" through general anesthesia, and then when I found out my inability to be easily numbed on my lower jaws is an actual condition that lots of other people have. But we can't get past the receptionists and the receptionists don't know any more than I do about these alternative techniques, in fact they SEEM to know less, and they won't ask the dentists for me! I've toughed it out for 40 years - I'm too old to be doing that any more! I'm tired of being "soothed" and told not to be "nervous"!

How do you get past the receptionist to find this stuff out?
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Hi Pyewacket,
Numbing the lower molar area can be very difficult in some people, and clearly you are one of them unfortunately.
You are correct that intra osseous injections normally do the trick when others fail.
It the UK and Europe we have something call the quicksleeper which does this very well. I am not sure it is available in the states. I know it is in Canada and some American dentists have imported it via Canada.
The alternative's are x-tip, stabident and something called Tuttle numb now.
To avoid reception, I would suggest you just email practices asking if they are proficient with these techniques.