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  • Writer's pictureDr. Llewelyn A. Paras

How Long Does Numbness Last After the Dentist?

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

On average, numbness after the dentist lasts between 1 and 3 hours. However, the exact time can vary based on factors like the type of anesthetic used for your dental service or whether you’re undergoing a procedure that may not require anesthesia, such as laser dentistry.

The methods used to administer local anesthesia can also affect how long it lasts. The full range of time that numbness may last can go from under an hour to over 4 hours!

The variation of time that local anesthetic lasts and the factors that affect it mean that each person can be affected differently. That’s why it’s a great idea to speak with your dentist ahead of the procedure about what to expect.

At Dental Haus, we’re committed to providing premier dental care and ensuring you feel comfortable by answering any questions you may have about numbness, local anesthesia, and what to expect.

A close-up of the dentist's hands holding a syringe applying anesthesia to a patient's gums.

Which Dental Procedures Involve Numbing Anesthetic?

Generally, any procedure that may cause discomfort can involve the use of local anesthetics, such as restorative procedures like tooth fillings and root canals, as well as surgical procedures like tooth extractions.

Common dental procedures where local anesthesia may be used include:

  • Filling cavities

  • Root canals

  • Installing dental crowns

  • Installing dental bridges

  • Installing dental implants

  • Tooth extractions

If you require a dental procedure where local anesthesia may be used to reduce discomfort, you can have confidence that we will take the time to prepare you by answering any questions you may have.

Are There Alternatives to Numbing with Local Anesthetic?

For some procedures, there are alternatives we can use to avoid the use of local anesthetics. There are also dental procedures, such as sedation dentistry, that can be beneficial for patients who are uncomfortable with needles and anesthesia.

Laser Dentistry

At Dental Haus, we can use the Solea laser to complete some treatments without numbing your mouth. The Solea laser can be an excellent alternative for those who are uncomfortable with injections or numbness that follows some procedures.

Laser dentistry can also be used to remove tooth decay and for other procedures that your dentist may suggest following a dental exam.

While it can eliminate the need for needles and drills, it’s also important to know that is not always the case. We can help you determine if laser dentistry is a good option for your dental care needs.

Sedation Dentistry

This type of dentistry involves the use of oral sedatives that are taken before a procedure to help you feel at ease. When you visit us for a consultation, we may prescribe an oral sedative if we believe it can help improve your experience during the procedure.

A female dentist is spraying local anesthesia in the mouth of a young patient.

Which Local Anesthetics Are Used by Canadian Dentists?

There are 5 common local anesthetics used by dentists in Canada. The type of anesthetic used for your procedure can vary depending on the duration and strength of numbing needed.

The common anesthetics used by Canadian dentists include:

  • Articaine

  • Bupivacaine

  • Lidocaine

  • Mepivacaine

  • Prilocaine

The amount of time that these local anesthetics last varies both between the different varieties as well as based on how they are administered. The way they are administered can also vary depending on the procedure being completed.

If you have specific questions about the type of local anesthetic we can use for your procedure and how long you can expect it to leave you numb, please feel free to ask them during your consultation.

Our goal is to help you feel at ease about your procedure by providing you with all the information you need.

Who Can Benefit from Alternatives to Anesthetic Numbing?

The common local anesthetics used by dentists in Canada are safe for most adults to use, including elderly patients and pregnant people. Allergic reactions to local anesthetics are rare, and local anesthetics have few negative interactions with other medications.

Although local anesthetics are safe, some groups of people need more diligent care during the numbing process, and their experiences may be improved by alternatives to numbing.


Local anesthetics must be given in much smaller doses for children. While it is still safe to use them, you may find that your child can benefit from alternatives like laser dentistry during procedures like cavity fillings.

Individuals With Poor Liver Function

Many common local anesthetics are processed in the liver, so local anesthetics must also be used carefully for anyone with conditions that affect their liver. In these cases, a local anesthetic can still be given, but you may benefit more from alternative options.

Individuals who Feel Nervous at the Dentist

If the sight—or thought—of a needle makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Anxiety-induced reactions are common for dentistry procedures that involve local anesthetics, and fainting is one of the most common reactions.

If you feel nervous about going to the dentist for a procedure that involves needles or drills, you can benefit from speaking with us about alternative procedures that involve laser dentistry or sedation dentistry.

We’re Committed to Helping You Feel at Ease

When you visit us, we strive to help you feel calm and prepared for your procedure by answering your questions about everything from how long numbness lasts after a dental procedure to specific details like the cost of a dental implant.

Book an appointment at Dental Haus today to speak more with our dedicated, highly-trained dental professionals.

NEW! Needle-Free & Drill-Free Dental Procedures. Book your appointment today!

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