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What is an intraosseous injection like?



Junior member
May 10, 2012
Hello folks -

I've been having a terrible time going to the dentist for years and years due to the local anaesthetic not working properly on my bottom teeth, and I've found a lot of the information on this website & forum very helpful so I thought it might help other people with the same problem if I came on here and shared my story.

I don't really have a dental phobia as such, more a specific fear of the anaesthetics not working properly - this fear is well grounded in reality, since the usual local anaesthetics have basically never worked on my bottom teeth. For many years I have been variously cajoled and bullied by dentists into having my teeth drilled when they weren't properly numb. The pattern is always exactly the same - my lip, gums, tongue, etc will all go numb as you would expect, but the actual teeth are still wide awake when they come to start drilling. This has happened many times with many different dentists, and I've had some pretty horrible experiences.

Finally, in desperation and with a wisdom tooth needing a big filling and another tooth with a crack in it, I went looking for a new dentist. I was actually looking for IV sedation in the hopes that it would make the experience more bearable (I know it doesn't make the anaesthetic work any better, but at least I might not care so much!) - at this stage I didn't believe it was possible to make those teeth numb and thought the only answer was to take me as far 'out of it' as possible.

The new dentist persuaded me to let him try and get the tooth numb before we resorted to IV sedation, which was quite a feat in itself since I'd promised myself I'd never fall for that one again! On the first attempt, he tried at least 3 injections in different places, but as soon as it became apparent that it hadn't worked, he stopped! Unlike all the others, he didn't make me go through with it. He packed the tooth up and suggested I come back another day and he would try an intraosseous injection. I was of course terrified, particularly once I realised what was involved, but (partly thanks to info on this forum) I decided to give it a go. I'm very pleased to report that it worked! My tooth really was completely numb, I couldn't feel a thing! In the end, it turned out to be one of the least traumatic fillings I've had.

So, what was the intraosseous injection like?

Short version: it really, honestly, isn't as bad as you think. If anything, I would say it was less uncomfortable than the big nerve block they usually do for the bottom teeth.

For those of you who might find it helpful to know the details of what it's really like (I think I would have found it helpful myself!),I'll put the long version at the bottom of this post - after a gap to protect those of you who are squeamish or likely to be freaked out!

Here are some things I have learned from all this that other people might find helpful:

- If you have difficulty getting numb properly, and your dentist is only trying the usual things then telling you you have to put up with it, try another dentist! There may well be more that can be done, and dentists do exist who will not force you to have your teeth drilled when they aren't numb.

- If the dentist is acting like you are the problem, change dentists! Maybe it's not you…

- Intraosseous injections genuinely aren't as bad as they sound, and they really work!

- Don't give up and assume it's impossible!

I'm not a dentist, and I know that what worked for me won't be what works for everybody, but I hope somebody out there found this helpful!



Ok so, here's what an intraosseous injection is actually like - first hand account from a patient who's actually had one!

First of all, they give you the usual sort of anaesthetic to make sure that your gum is properly numb.

Next they drill a tiny hole in your bone, just next to the tooth they want to work on. The drilling only takes about 2 or 3 seconds, and it doesn't hurt at all. It feels a tiny bit like having your tooth drilled when it is properly numbed, except it's in a different place, it's over much faster, and there's only a tiny bit of vibration. You can tell that's what's going on if you know what I mean, but that's about it. I was amazed at how easy it was, because let's face it, that was the really scary-sounding bit!

After that, they put the anaesthetic in through the hole they just drilled using a really small needle. I couldn't feel this bit at all.

The whole process is surprisingly quick and straightforward, and most importantly, IT WORKED!

My understanding is that there may be extra nerve branches supplying the teeth in my lower jaw, so although the anaesthetic drugs work just fine on me, they weren't actually reaching the nerves that go into the teeth. This is why my lip, gum etc were all numb but the teeth weren't. With an intraosseous injection, the dentist was putting the anaesthetic directly into the place where the nerves supplying the teeth are - inside the bone - so that's why it worked when nothing else did. (NB: I'm not a dentist, just a patient! This is my lay person's understanding - hopefully one of the real dentists on here will correct me if I'm wrong!)