Lidocaine allergy scare at the dentist. What now?

Sedation dentistry can help calm a patient before an appointment. Often, past negative experiences are a trigger, including those like the one described below where a patient had a reaction to local anesthetic.

It’s weird how a person’s body changes over time. Prior to 3 years ago, I had very few allergies or sensitivities. Now I am gluten sensitive and sensitive to nuts. I have not been that concerned about food allergies, because there are so many other things that I can eat. My concern comes from a dental visit earlier this month. I had a nagging toothache that came from damaged pulp in my tooth due to an impact on the left side of my face. The dentist gave me a painless injection of lidocaine. Within 10 minutes my gums were burning and itching like crazy, and I got chills. She said that it looked like I was having an allergic reaction, and I was. My dentist was nice and calm and gave me something to counteract the reaction. She wasn’t able to start the root canal. The tooth still hurts, but now I’m nervous. I know my dentist won’t give me lidocaine again, but now my anxiety level is high. What if I can’t get numb? She tells me that she can safely get me numb, but I’m concerned. What do I do now? Katia


We are sorry to hear about your reaction to lidocaine. It’s good that your dentist quickly resolved this issue. Lidocaine is in the amide group of local anesthetics. Other types of anesthetic in this class include:

  • Mepivacaine
  • Bupivacaine
  • Ropivacaine

Sedation Dentistry Can Help

Head and shoulders photo of a man and woman lying in a field of flowers, for information on sedation dentistry from Plano TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Sedation dentistry helps you relax

Sedation dentistry can help you relax in advance of your dental appointment. But now that you and your dentist know that you’re allergic to lidocaine, what can be done? Your dentist knows to provide a different class of anesthetic. Patients who cannot tolerate amides often do well with local anesthetics in the ester group.

What you can do

  • Be certain to record your history on future medical or dental history forms that you complete.
  • Speak with your dentist about your concerns about anesthetic, as well as the types of sedation she offers to help you remain calm.
  • If your dentist doesn’t offer sedation dentistry, search for a dentist who is able to provide it.

Nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation (anti-anxiety medication in pill form), or both are offered by many dentists. You can be confident that the right level of sedation will help you relax and continue to have positive dental experiences.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.