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How to Survive a Novocaine Shot

Hate getting a novocaine shot?  You're not the only one…no one loves needles.  But some hate dental injections even more than a shot in the arm because of the way it is given…slowly.  Learn why your dentist goes so slow and does other strange things here.

Actually, Novocaine is no longer used in dentistry.  It was replaced by better products years ago.

But, like all sodas are called "Cokes" all dental anesthetics are called novocaine. 

Getting a novocaine injection is not funny.  But making fun of pain may be the best way to survive those things we would rather not do.   

I love this clip with Steve Martin as the sadistic dentist in Little Shop of Horrors.   

It is hard to imagine anyone going back to that dentist much less getting addicted to dental treatment.  

But back in the day it was not unusual to become addicted to a dentist.  Addictions happened because cocaine was used as a dental anesthetic. 

Not surprisingly, cocaine did a good job of pain control and due to its addictive properties probably wasn't too bad at keeping patients coming back for their appointments.  

It eventually became obvious that it was too toxic to be used.  

Though business had never been better, everyone agreed it was unethical to make dental care addictive.

And that is why Novocaine was invented.

Novocaine replaced cocaine as a dental anesthetic in 1905.      

Though a big improvement over cocaine, Novocaine had some downside too and is not used in dentistry today because of the adverse reactions it caused in some. 

Along came  lidocaine and a few other "caines".  Carbocaine, Septocaine, and Xylocaine are a few.  Some are long lasting others quick acting but all are still commonly referred to by the general public as Novocaine.

At the end of the day, few patients care which 'caine is used they are more concerned with the way "novocaine" is administered.

The mysterious methods used while giving a novocaine shot are often misunderstood.  Why do dentists do strange things while giving you a shot?

novocaine shot

One explanation:  dentists are geeks.  It's true, dentists are a little nerdy but they are the coolest kind of nerd.  

They have an unusual fascination with teeth, they love the shape of teeth, size and color of teeth, all the tiny grooves in teeth and the way teeth fit together.  

They like to look and look and look again at your teeth and then to you about things you have no interest in.  

But, unlike some nerds they also love people, they get a kick out of making their clients look and feel better.

So, they are cool lovable geeks and  there really are good reasons for their odd behavior while giving you a shot.

Strange things dentists do:

Why do they put the yucky tasting stuff on your gums?  The yucky stuff or topical gel is not always the best flavor but does effectively pre-numb the area where the shot will be given.  It totally takes the edge off.  Sometimes you can't even tell when the needle goes in.

Why does a dental injection take so long to give?  Compared to a shot you get at the doctor, a dental injection  takes an eternity.  Your dentist doesn't like to torture you, it really is safer and less painful when given slowly.  The anesthetic numbs the area as it is injected.  

A dental injection given slowly allows the tissue to get numb before all the anesthetic is placed and is less likely to cause bruising, soreness and other side effects. 

Why all the questions when you can't talk?  They are trying to relax you and take your mind off the procedure and believe it or not, they really do like you and want to get to know you.     

Why do some dentists shake your lip? They are not nervous or suffering from a neurological disorder.  A little bit of lip shaking distracts you from any discomfort that may occur.

Why do some dentists hide the syringe behind their back?  They want to spare you the anxiety that seeing it might cause.  You really don't want to see it do you? 

There are many things I would rather do than get a novocaine shot, but understanding the process makes it a little less stressful.

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