7 types of oral anesthesia

It is common for the dentist to need to use oral anesthesia to perform the usual dental treatments. There are several options. Keep reading and find out more.

Last update: July 29, 2021

When performing dental treatment, it may be necessary to place some type of oral anesthesia. This way, procedures can be performed without pain to the patient.

Depending on each clinical case, it is possible to choose between different types of anesthesia. In this article we detail the most used ones.

What is oral anesthesia?

Oral anesthesia is a procedure that It is used in dentistry to eliminate sensitivity from the mouth. Thus, dentists can perform treatments without causing pain or discomfort to the patient while they work.

The medication that is placed reversibly inhibits nerve conduction. The sensation of pain is blocked for a certain period of time, which the dentist uses for his maneuvers.

In some cases the patient remains awake. In others, in addition to not feeling pain, the person is unconscious.

7 types of oral anesthesia

As we have already mentioned, there are different types of oral anesthesia that can be chosen according to each clinical case. Even, sometimes it is possible to combine several methods to ensure patient comfort. Here are the 7 most used types of oral anesthesia.

1. Local anesthesia

It is the most used oral anesthesia technique in dentistry to eliminate sensitivity in the mouth. It is useful for most dental treatments that cause pain, such as fillings, root canals, periodontal treatment, extractions and implants.

Anesthesia is placed inside the tissues through the injection of the liquid with a syringe and needle, so it can be a somewhat painful method for some patients. Its effect lasts about 2 hours, although this depends on the type of anesthetic used and the amount used.

There are three types of local anesthesia that are used most often in dentistry:

  • Infiltrative: It is to remove the sensitivity of the area near the site where the anesthetic liquid is placed, since the medication acts on the nerve endings in the vicinity. It is used regularly for the upper jaw, for the anterior sector of the mandible and for other specific areas.
  • Troncular: anesthesia is applied near a trunk nerve, eliminating the sensitivity of the entire area innervated by it. In dentistry, it is commonly used on the lower dental nerve, making the tongue, lip, gingiva and half of the lower arch on one side numb. It is also used, although less frequently, on the palatal, nasopalatine, infraorbital, and mental nerves.
  • Intraligamentous: the liquid is placed between the bone and the periodontal ligament, in the root zone of the tooth. It is used to reinforce the effects of any of the previous techniques, in cases of localized infections, root canals or very long treatments.
The placement of anesthetics has several routes. The most suitable for the patient is chosen.

2. Topical anesthesia

This type of oral anesthesia it is placed directly on the oral mucosa without the need for a puncture. It is marketed in the form of a gel, spray or cream that, in contact with the epithelium, numbs the area.

They come with different components in different concentrations, although lidocaine is one of the most common. Its effect is limited, mild and short-lived, so in general its use is combined with other techniques.

They are often prescribed prior to the need for local anesthesia to minimize injection pain. Too It is useful to reduce the nauseous effect of some patients when taking a mouth impression.

3. Mild sedation with nitrous oxide

This oral anesthesia technique consists of applying nitrous oxide and oxygen through a mask. The patient inhales the gas mixture that inhibits sensitivity and pain, but remains conscious during treatment.

With this technique needles and punctures are avoided, since the medication reaches the person through inhalation. It is used frequently for periodontal treatments in which the pain caused by the therapy is not excessive.

4. Conscious sedation

This technique facilitates the relaxation of the patient, allowing the realization of the treatments in a comfortable and calm way, but with the conscious person. It is used in those with a high level of stress, anxiety or fear before dental procedures.

Conscious sedation is not so widely used in dentistry, since it is necessary to have specific technical and human resources. In addition, before undergoing this procedure it is necessary for the patient to undergo some medical tests to monitor the general state of health.

The procedure it must be administered and supervised by a trained anesthetist or dentist. This will monitor vital signs to determine what type and amount of anesthesia to be administered intravenously. The supplement with local anesthesia in the mouth is necessary.

The sedative effect on the patient causes numbness and decreased reflexes. This lasts for a few hours, after which it returns to normal. It is necessary that patients attend the dental consultation accompanied by an adult, who will help them during the recovery period.

5. Oral sedation

It involves the use of oral anxiolytics from the night before or half an hour before the dental intervention. Although it is not a type of oral anesthesia itself, since it does not numb a certain area of ​​the body, It is used to reassure the patient.

With the use of these drugs, the person arrives more relaxed to the consultation, to later have better access to the interventions. Other methods of anesthesia will be necessary to avoid pain.

The indication of the drugs is made by the dentist in the previous consultation. Although its use is not common in dentistry, it is useful in some very fearful and anxious patients.

6. Computerized digital anesthesia

This is a delivery method of oral anesthesia regulated by a digital machine that controls the amount and pressure of the introduction of the medication during the treatment. This way, the flow is constant and slow, reducing the sensation of pain and discomfort caused by traditional injection systems.

It is placed in a specific way on the tooth to be treated or the problem area of ​​the mouth. The rest of the surrounding tissues are not anesthetized, as is the case with conventional techniques. In this way, the patient does not feel the tongue or lip numb, as is the case with the manual method.

The effects are fast, deep and almost immediate. With this technique it is possible to treat many teeth in the same session.



7. General anesthesia

General anesthesia is about the temporary absence of sensation of the whole body, accompanied by loss of consciousness. This procedure is not performed by the dentist in the office, but rather is in charge of an anesthetist in a hospital setting.

It is not the most used method in dentistry, but it is used for specific situations. It is useful in patients with disabilities to open their mouths by themselves, for the placement of multiple implants or to perform orthognathic or maxillofacial surgeries.

Tips for recovering from oral anesthesia

After receiving oral anesthesia, the effects of the medication may persist for a time. Even if full recovery usually happens on the same day, the sensations may continue for up to 24 hours.

The alteration in the perception and coordination of the mouth and the face are the most common effects. Taking into account these tips, the recovery will be more favorable:

  • Rest: it is important to take a moment to rest your mouth and rest. In this way, mobilization of the oral cavity is avoided, reducing the risk of accidental injury.
  • Company: It is useful to have someone accompany you after receiving oral anesthesia. If there are any complications, you will be able to assist the patient in a timely manner.
  • Exercise: the ideal is to suspend activities that require physical effort. Body movements and position changes must be done slowly to avoid dizziness.
  • Hydration: It is advisable to drink water in small amounts and frequently, as soon as possible. It is best to avoid energy drinks, caffeine and soda.
  • Feeding: As the effects of oral anesthesia wear off, semisolid foods, such as soups, can be added, followed by more consistent food. It is important to avoid chewing while the mouth is numb so as not to bite it or hurt the mucous membranes by accident.
  • Medication: You should continue taking the usual medication and that indicated for dental treatment, respecting the instructions and completing the prescribed scheme. It is essential to avoid self-medicating, and in the case of requiring any analgesic treatment, the ideal is to consult with the dentist.
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages and smoking: for 12 hours, at least.
  • Consult the dentist: If you experience any sensation that the dentist has not commented on, there is difficulty in breathing or the anesthesia does not go away after a day, you must go to the dentist.
A sensation of numbness is to be expected after the application of oral anesthesia.


As you have seen, there are different oral anesthesia techniques to make dental treatment more comfortable and effective. It will be the dentist who chooses the most suitable for each clinical case in particular.

It is important that before undergoing this type of dental intervention, the patient informs the dentist about their health. Communicating to the professional the medication that is taken on a regular basis, if one suffers from illnesses or allergies and if a woman is pregnant, is essential for treatment planning.

Although the prick of anesthesia may cause fear for some people, the truth is that This method allows oral treatments to be performed comfortably and without pain. Trusting the decision of the dentist on the technique to use and arriving at the consultation relaxed and will surely make the intervention more pleasant.