• Dental Phobia Support

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unable to numb



Junior member
Aug 20, 2008
Hi, I'm new here. I'm in my 50's and had some pretty bad experiences as a child which led to the phobia. I have had continuing problems when I have finally got myself to a dentist, ie having pain despite LA injections. They have told me it was due to poor practice with past dentists, or due to infection, or that I'm so anxious I perceive it to be painful when it's not. This week I had a wisdom tooth out under IV sedation with LA. The sedation worked really well, and I was unaware of having the LA so I know I was really out of it. However I remember briefly having pain during the procedure which woke me up, and after I must have gone off again as I dont recall them putting the gauze roll on to stop the bleeding. I had a follow up visit to the dentist (who is lovely) he told me it was impossible I felt pain as I was so sedated and possibly I was aware of some tugging and interpreted it as pain.
Now this has made me more nervous as I know all the things they explained it away with before I had covered. ie .no infection (I took antibiotics) no anxiety ( I was bang out!) and I have full confidence in the dentist to give me LA..where does that leave me, will I always have pain??:(
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Hi chattykath :welcome:,
do you always experience this problem, or only in certain parts of your mouth (e.g. lower teeth)? Some people have nerves that are wired slightly differently in the lower jaw, and some dentists will have a wider variety of injection techniques at their disposal to bypass this problem. If it occurs anywhere in the mouth, maybe a different local anaesthetic would work better for you. Has your dentist tried different local anaesthetics to see if this would help?
Thanks for your reply. Due to being a phobic I have avoided the dentist a lot over many years, therefore my experience has only been extractions for the past 15yrs at least.
Going back to childhood I can remember the numbing being ok for fillings, but I damaged my top front teeth aged 8 and consequently had lots of nasty things done to me for a few years afterwards. Sometimes it would numb and sometimes not. When it did, it often wore off and I needed more injections. I had fillings on the bottom and the same thing happened, but generally it could be topped up and it was ok. (The phobia came from the childhood experiences and a particulary unhelpful dentist who had his collegue hold me down in the chair screaming whilst he did his worst.)
When I was 25-30 I managed to find a dentist who was lovely and he did a lot of work for me including crowing the top teeth and a lower right extraction which was fine. Sometimes during the fillings he did need to top up the Local but because he listened and believed me when I said it hurt, we got along ok. Unfortunately he moved out of the area.
Since then I've had some more extractions (at the dental hospital) on the top, and have found them painful. The numbing seems to work as when they prod and ask if it feels numb it does. However when they start to pull the tooth the pain is severe and really deep down where I imagine the root is. Once I had an injection directly into the tooth which wasn't fun but worked better than the others. Sometimes it has needed many further injections, which help but don't take the pain away all together. This latest extraction was a lower left wisdom tooth under IV sedation and although it was a good deal better, regarding the anxiety I still felt pain.
I feel that in the past anxiety and on one occasion infection played a part, but not this time. I'm worried about the future, and having found another nice dentist don't want to alienate him by complaining about this.
I don't think anyone would feel alienated if you just told them what you told us - that you think they're really nice, but you still experience pain issues and would like to figure out, together with them, what might be done about it. Maybe a different local anaesthetic would work.
If your dentist is not amenable to discussion, then it would be good to find someone else who is confident in getting you numb. You could try e-mailing various dentists and ask about whether they are experienced with Gow-Gates blocks and Akinosi blocks, for example (these are specific injection techniques). From their responses, you may be able to figure who is quite confident in their ability to get you numb and who isn't.

Some dentists are nice but maybe not as accomplished in providing pain-free dentistry as others in your area, and you may need to look around a bit. Just asking the right questions might help with finding the right one, or else alerting your present dentist that things didn't go as well as you'd hoped might help him provide a better solution.
I do hope you will be able to work something out :grouphug:!!