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Dentistry/Cannot get numb!


First, thank you for answering the questions. You are the only one I have found online that actually had an answer for this question I need help with. I just wanted to ask you a few more details on the subject of not getting numb (and getting ill from flossing)

Background info:

It was discovered that I had a huge cavity in my lower left molar (farthest one back). I had minimal pain prior to this. I was referred to an endodontist for a root canal.
He is a great guy, so I don't think this issue had anything to do with him personally.
Anyways, I had some inflammation in my mouth from flossing a lot the night before the RC. I did not take any NSAIDS. I was not aware this would be an issue.
Went to the endo and he gave me 3 shots. My lip and everything else was totally numb. However, when he put the metal clamp on my tooth (from the rubber dam) I felt serious nerve pain. We tried it three times. All three times, I felt significant pain despite the rest of my face being numb. We had to stop.
Now the tooth is getting worse. In fact, every time I floss, I get a bad taste in my mouth and get very very physically ill. Yet there is no abscess.
I guess I really have 2 questions.

1-Do you think NSAIDS taken before the procedure will allow me to get numb? (I have had 2 root canals and an extraction before and was able to be numb for those)

2-Why do I get ill when I floss? This is scaring me.

Thank you for your help!

Hi Lee,

I'm sorry all this is going on. It's frustrating to have problems getting numb when you have a serious tooth problem....both for you and the dentist!

NASIDS are anti-inflammatories so they might help get you numb. However, you would probably need to take them for a couple days before your appointment so they would have time to work and reduce the inflammation. It would be worth a try, but I'm not sure it will help. You didn't mention if your tongue was numb. If it wasn't that might account for the clamp hurting your tooth when it was applied. Using injections right around the tooth might also might help with complete anesthesia. In situations like this we just need to try all the things in the book, until the problem is solved.

As for getting ill, it probably isn't doing you any real harm. It is most likely a response of your body to the bad some people get nauseous from bad smells, thinking of certain foods, etc. You might be able to get your physician to prescribe an anti-nausea medication, but, obviously, the long term answer is to get the tooth and gums in that area healthy again.

Hope this help. Good luck!

Gary Backlund DMD, MSD


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Gary Backlund, DMD, MSD


I am an Endodontist ( root canal specialist ) and can answer questions about root canals and their treatment. I cannot diagnose or treat online, but can answer general questions. I have been a specialist for 25 years and am Past President of the Washington State Association of Endodontists.


25 years practicing as a specialist

American Association of Endodonists, Past President Washington State Association of Endodontists.

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