Trouble Getting Numb For Dental Treatment?

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Our bodies work differently. To put it plain and simply, some dental patients just don’t respond as well to local anesthetics; they struggle to get numb. Though understandably concerning, it’s important to understand that even if that has happened in the past, it does not mean that it has to be an issue that you’ll face forever. At Blaisdell Family Dentistry in Boise, we practice the highest quality general and cosmetic dentistry that can help even those who have historically had trouble getting numb. We employ various techniques combined with different medications that can help you overcome your issues with numbing. We are committed to finding the right combination to help make you comfortable.

In case you are wondering what can affect how you respond to numbing medication, here are a few possible causes:

A pH Imbalance

Your body’s pH level is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity in blood and other fluids. Also called acid-base balance, the pH scale goes from 0 to 14. A pH below 7 is acidic. A pH above 7 is alkaline or basic. 7.40 is considered a normal blood pH. Your lungs and kidneys work constantly to regulate your pH balance. When the pH level is abnormal, numbing agents can be less powerful. Medical conditions such as asthma, emphysema, untreated diabetes, and cancer can impact pH levels.

An Acute Local Infection

This is related to the previous section because an infection changes the pH balance. If a dental patient has an infection in his or her mouth (sometimes called a hot tooth), it may need to be treated with antibiotics prior to dental care.

Active Metabolism

If painkilling medications wear off rapidly, it could be due to an extra-active metabolism. Intensive exercise and caffeine can accelerate your metabolism. It’s best not to overdo either of these immediately before dental treatment.

Differences In Anatomy

When administering local anesthetics, dentists need to locate your nerve(s). But everyone is wired differently and X-rays don’t always give a clear picture of the location of nerves. The size and shape of your jaw and the amount of fat and muscle influence where nerves are located. Some people even have an extra nerve where most people have only one.

The Patient Moves During The Injection (We Want To Get On Your Nerves)

We get it. It’s not easy to stay perfectly still when your dentist is putting a needle into your gums, but in order to be effective the painkiller must reach the nerve and it is extra challenging to hit a moving target. So, do your best to stay still when receiving numbing meds.

Red Hair

People with red hair and fair skin may need extra painkilling medication. This sounds wacky, but it is backed by science. The gene that generates hair color (Mc1R) also impacts the pain receptors in the brain. The MC1R mutation that produces red hair is due to the production of pheomelanin. The presence of pheomelanin can increase the body’s sensitivity to pain. This is another way that people with auburn tresses are unique. If you’re a redhead who’s traditionally avoided dental care for this reason, come see us! We’ve got you covered.


Individuals who are extra nervous at the dentist may have difficulty getting numb. This could be due to a number of factors. Jaw clenching and holding your breath may change the way the body reacts to painkillers. Extreme anxiety may also affect the perception of pain even though there are no biological changes.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

This rare connective tissue disorder affects a body’s reaction to numbing medication

We Can Overcome These Challenges

We use different medications and processes to work around these problems.

If you have had trouble with anesthetics in the past, there is no need to skip dental Blaisdell Family Dentistry in Boise will keep you comfortable during your dental treatment and provide you with top-quality comprehensive general and cosmetic dentistry. Don’t hesitate to call us today to schedule an appointment. We can help you keep your smile as uniquely beautiful as you are!

  Contact Blaisdell Family Dentistry:


Location (Tap to open in Google Maps):

8877 W Hackamore Dr
Boise, Idaho