Although these medical advances have been a big help in reducing pain and discomfort, many people want to avoid pain killers at all costs. If this sounds like you and you think you might have a cavity, you might be wondering if you really have to choose one of these for your tooth to be drilled. Here's the reality of the situation and what options you have.
Anesthesia is actually very rarely used for a simple tooth filling. While the drilling can be painful, there usually a need to put anyone under. The main exception is twilight sleep, which is a type of pain reliever that dentists can give their patients. It allows the patient to remain semi-conscious, but without any pain. Even so, this is usually only applied if a procedure would otherwise be very painful, or if they have an anxiety issue that makes it frightening to be in the dentist's chair.
Novocaine is a type of injected pain reliever that numbs the area it enters almost immediately. It's one of the most common tools a dentist relies upon, and is usually offered for pain relief or prevention when someone is having a tooth filled.
Dentists sometimes also offer other varieties of injected pain relievers. They all act pretty much the same way, but have different strengths and potencies. Make sure to ask your dentist what type of pain reliever they use if you're interested in researching it.
So with two possibilities of pain relief, if you're trying to avoid pain killers, you might be worried about the idea of trying to go to a dentist right now. The good news is, it is possible to skip pain killers.
Anesthesia is almost never used for a tooth filling, so you don't have to worry about that one bit. Let your dentist know that you're not interested in twilight sleep and don't have anxiety issues that require a tranquilizer.
If you want to skip Novocaine, the good news is it actually often isn't necessary for teeth to be drilled. The tooth doesn't have nerves extending all the way to the edges of the bone and dental enamel. If you have a shallow cavity, it's possible for it to be drilled without any pain. However, this would be up to the discretion of your dentist, as they'll be able to tell from your x-rays if the pulp of the tooth, where the majority of the nerves are, is affected.
However, you are always within your rights to reject pain medication, regardless of the condition of your tooth. It may not be pleasant, but if you have a medical allergy, addiction problem, or simply don't want them for personal reasons, explain this to your dentist as soon as possible so that they understand your situation and can cooperate.
Seeing a dentist for a tooth filling doesn't have to mean being given medication. In the future, make sure to stick to your regular dental exams and cleanings in order to reduce the risk of this becoming necessary again.