Some procedures at your local general dentistry clinic require your dentist to inject anesthetic directly into your gums with a syringe. If this has never been necessary for you before, the very idea might make you uncomfortable. But just imagine how uncomfortable you would be without the anesthetic. If you've never had to have such an injection prior to dental work, what can you expect?
The Initial Injection
There is obviously going to be some discomfort as the needle pierces your gums. This should pass almost immediately. It's unfortunate (though fortunately rare), but it's possible for the tip of the needle to inadvertently come into contact with a nerve. If the pain is more than what could be considered reasonable and doesn't quickly subside, point this out to your dentist. If the syringe has affected a nerve, some minor nerve damage might be the result. Don't be concerned, as this will pass of its own accord, although the site might be sensitive for a few days after the procedure.
A Short Wait
After administering the anesthetic, your dentist will need to wait for it to take effect. This waiting time will vary depending on the strength of the anesthetic and the injection site. You might wait in the treatment chair, or your dentist might even instruct you to wait elsewhere. Remember that you have received a local anesthetic, which doesn't cause full body sedation, so it's perfectly safe for you to move around.
As the anesthetic takes effect, the injection site will become completely numb, which is precisely what it's supposed to do. You will lose all feeling in the portion of your jaw where the anesthetic was injected, and the muscles in that area will begin to sag. This can be rather off putting, like you no longer have the ability to move this part of your face. Remember that it's perfectly normal, and it's just the anesthetic doing its job. Voluntary movement will return once the anesthetic has worn off.
After a dental procedure that has required local anesthetic, you can generally return home without assistance. This differs from full sedation, where you might be groggy and should be escorted back home. But home is where you should be. It can be prudent to take the rest of the day off, since you can be in some discomfort once the anesthetic wears off. If your dentist has prescribed any painkillers or has recommended an over-the-counter form of pain relief, it's helpful to take your first dose before the anesthetic has worn off in its entirety (ask your dentist about the approximate time frame).
The very thought of the needle might be disconcerting for many dental patients, so it's beneficial to know what to expect. Please ask your dentist prior to the procedure if you should have any further questions. Contact a general dentistry clinic for more information.