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Trouble getting numb after nerve damage at previous appointment



Junior member
Sep 24, 2021
I have had trouble with 1 molar since June 2021. I have been to the dentist 4 times, about to be 5 times when I go back in 4-5 days. The initial attempt at fixing this bottom, left, molar was done by a student dentist. He had several "uh-oh's" while working on this tooth. His syringe spring broke while in the middle of ejecting the anesthesia which made him smack me in my front teeth,(he smacked my front teeth 4 times during this visit! I thought he broke my tooth) I felt him go through my nerve & I could feel the liquid squirt into a "pocket" area in my jaw/cheek. In the end, there were several more issues, this filling took over 4 hours & I've been back to get this tooth fixed 3 more times! The last time I was at the dentist, the dentist numbed my jaw hinge but this time everything but this one single tooth got numb! It was partially numb, but not deep inside near the root. The dentist removed the filling and was able to see that the student dentist hadn't removed all of the decay before he filled the tooth the first time. But this last visit, the dentist wasn't able to get all of the decay either as I wasn't all the way numb. So he just refilled the tooth instead of using other methods of getting the tooth numb. The pain was INTENSE!! I go back in 4-5 days to the dentist as I still can't chew on my left side. The pain when chewing is better since getting it refilled, but still to painful to eat anything more than bread or very soft foods!

My question is, if the student dentist damaged my nerves, would that be the reason for my tooth not getting numb? I've always had issues getting numb. On the car ride home I'd finally get fully numb. The dentist said it's my anxiety. So I've learned to breath & self sooth & that has helped! This is the first time in several years I've had an issue with not getting numb. It's now Thursday night & I go back on Tuesday morning & I'd really love to have options to take to my dentist so I can finally get this tooth fixed for good! My dentist had said he'd do a root canal. I've never had one & I really don't want one! Please help!??? ????
More likely explanation for your question is the nerve in the affected tooth was highly inflamed and didn't numb properly.
Other options would have been put in a sedative temp filling such as Ledermix (not available in the US) or using an auxiliary method of putting in local such as a Wand.
Oooh, ok so previous trauma 2 months prior wouldn't have anything to do with not getting numb now. Gotcha. ? thank you so much for your fast response! You mentioned that the Ledermix option isn't available in the US, but you also mentioned a wand, what is that & is it available in the US? And what would you suggest I do if I go to my next appointment & he tries 1 maybe 2 methods & I still don't get numb? I'm sorry if you've answered these questions already, I just found this forum last night. Thanks so much!! ☺
A Wand is a fancy electric powered injection system. It's certainly available in the US. There are others.
If the tooth is improving a bit then it's likely it will be easier to get numb this time. \
Difficult to say what else they can try without knowing what they have tried next time that hasn't worked, if you see what I mean :)
Thank you for replying. I went back to the dentist again. He was able to get my tooth numb without any trouble. He removed the filling for a SECOND time. & removed the last bit of decay (that he couldn't get when he removed the filling the previous time, when I wasn't completely numb) & refilled it for the 3rd time. I gave my tooth 2 weeks to heal before trying to chew any food on it. But there's still no improvement in my tooth. So now the dentist said I'm looking at needing a root canal. I've never had a root canal and I've never had any issue with any other filling. This cavity wasn't even a deep cavity! They have taken 3 x-rays & never saw any sign of infection or reason for this tooth to be having any issues. So the dentist thought there may be a pin hole air pocket in the filling material as it was a student dentist that originally did the filling. At my last appointment, they took another xray & they said they THINK they're starting to see a tiny pocket of infection starting at the very bottom tip of the root. Since my cavity wasn't very big at all, & no other tooth had this issue, I'm wondering if this possible infection started due to the number of times they opened this tooth since June? (It's now October) or if the student dentist wasn't clean enough during the 4 HOURS it took him to do the original filling? It just doesn't make sense to me why this tooth would get an infection when I had bigger cavities that they took care of before this and I had no problem with those teeth! I was able to chew & eat perfectly fine even while my mouth was still numb right after the fillings! In conclusion, the dentist gave me 7 days of antibiotics, I just finished them yesterday, but im still having steady pain in that tooth & in my jaw that I wasn't having 2 weeks ago before they opened this tooth up and filled it the last time. They said I had about a 20% chance of the antibiotics working & not needing to do a root canal. & that I'd know in a week if my pain was gone... well my pain hasn't stopped. If I take Tylenol or ibuprofen in the morning, the pain will stop for most of, if not all day. But I've been having to take Tylenol or ibuprofen every day. I'm nervous because any time I have a new, first time procedure, I can count on not getting 100% numb due to My adrenaline. It's been an issue ever since I was a young child. Even if I don't feel scared, my body reacts & my adrenaline spikes. If you have any information or answers to any of my questions or concerns, I would greatly appreciate hearing anything you have to say about all this! Thanks so much for your time and knowledge!
Apologies for being a grumpy old man, but any chance in future of breaking things into paragraphs, reading that was a bit of a chore :)
I'm wondering if this possible infection started due to the number of times they opened this tooth since June? (It's now October) or if the student dentist wasn't clean enough during the 4 HOURS it took him to do the original filling?
Not really. It's not like open heart surgery :)

What can happen though is that the repeated challenges to the tooth caused the nerve to die off. Having said that, nerves can die even with fairly small cavities, with the "right" combination of the "wrong" things happening, e.g. if the bacteria causing the cavity were extra aggressive and if the dentine tubules (little canals that connect the inside of the tooth "the nerve" bit to the outer layers) are especially wide open for some reason to allow bacteria to get in.

If there's infection present and the antibiotics help, then you need a root canal. If there isn't then they won't help and of course you don't need the root canal... best they can do is to help diagnose if the dentist isn't certain what's going on. Hope that helps a bit. If simple pain killers fix the problem for the day then it doesn't sound like it's a case for a root canal.
HI! Sorry about not using paragraphs. Thank you for your reply!!

I finished the antibiotics. I still can't chew on my left side where the "bad tooth" is.

Since June, I haven't been able to chew on that tooth. After this last time they removed the filling and refilled it, I started to get a constant ache, I took ibuprofen or aspirin once in the morning and I would be pain free for the rest of the day. But I still got the antibiotics from my dentist.

After taking the antibiotics for 7 days, there was little improvement. The antibiotics basically put my tooth condition back to the way it was before the last filling removal/refill. Which is, I can't chew on it but no aching.

When my tooth felt like this before, they saw no sign of infection. (In any of 3-4 xrays they took) It was only with the aching that they "think they see a small infection starting" but they said they aren't sure.

I REALLY don't want a root canal so I'm hopeful that there was no infection. But my dentist said that if this nerve is just aggravated, the way they fix it is root canal anyway. If it's infection, they fix it by root canal. So either way they want to do a root canal. I don't know enough about this to know what options I actually have. This is my first "problem tooth".

I just dont want to have a root canal if there's another option. My teeth are always sensitive to hot/cold/sweet, and I usually use sensodine tooth paste. I ran out of my tooth paste & I just got more. Since I've been using my toothpaste, about the last week, I was able to chew on that tooth yesterday at about 1/2 strength. I just couldn't bite down all the way but I was able to bite down light to medium, which I haven't been able to do at all since June.

Last thing I wanted to say, is my dentist said his own mother had a tooth that was doing the same thing as mine & after 6 months, her tooth normalized on its own. It just stopped hurting. ?‍♀️?‍♀️ so im not sure if I should wait a little longer & see if my tooth "normalizes" also??
My appointment is on November 18th, that would be about 5 months since this problem started. I would love your advice. Even if you could just tell me what you would do if this was your tooth. I'm sure you can't give me official recommendations, but I'm very curious what you, or anyone else reading this post, would do if you/they were me.

Thank you so so much for any & all help you can give me! ❤
Thanks for the paragraphs :)

I'd want to do an electronic pulp test on the tooth first. Depending on the results of that would guide what I'd do next.

It's likely to be one of two things, the nerve has been damaged by all the fillings and it is trying to recover, if it does then happy days, just leave it alone, or else it's been irreparably injured and is slowly dying off. In which case it's root canal or extraction I"m afraid.

By the time the appointment comes around, things should hopefully be clearer.
Im pulling into the dentist now. It's been 6 weeks since my last visit. I still can't chew on the tooth due to pain. But that's the only time it hurts.
Yay! Thank you so much!! I request the electronic pulp test like you suggested! I felt the pulse when the tester was on 2!! The dentist said while that was on the more sensitive side of normal, it's still within normal range!

So he said no root canal today! Between the pulp test & the fact that the antibiotics didn't do anything, we are going to give the tooth some more time as it's only been about 6 weeks since they opened the tooth last!

He told me his mother had a similar issue & her tooth took 6 months for the nerve calmed down. So I'm still hopeful! He suggested I take Aleve 2 times per day for 7 days and see if the inflammation in the nerve goes down as sometimes if you can get the inflammation down, it won't come back.

He is also calling me in a prescription for anti-sensitivty tooth paste.
Thank you a million times for your help!! I'd never have known to ask for that test! ?????
I’m so glad I found your thread LissaHope , since I’ve had a similar - if not identical issue on one of my teeth (now it’s fixed) and now it’s happening again on another tooth. Sadly . I got X rays as well and they showed nothing wrong with my tooth but it still hurts when I chew . It’s been three months …. Sadly . It also depends on the type of food . All of my teeth are sensitive as well to hot and cold and I was told to use an anti sensitivity toothpaste - so we have this problem in common as well . My dentist basically said the same thing that the nerve is trying to recover from having , in my case , a very deep filling although there wasn’t much cavity inside . We are basically having the same issue . Does your tooth only hurt when you chew or is it constant ? Was it constant before , and then it got better ? I’m very worried but I also hope I will find a solution and the reason why this is happening . My dentist hadn’t prescribed antibiotics or anything yet but I will call her soon and ask her about it . She thinks the tooth needs more time to adjust but it’s been three months and i am so worried . Let me know how it goes for you