I’ve been seeing my dentist for a few years now, and I’m happy with him, but he is the worst at giving shots. My last dentist gave me shots and they didn’t hurt this badly. I had to get numbed to get a cavity filled, and worked up the courage to ask him to be more gentle. He brushed off my concerns, saying that shots are supposed to hurt. The shots he gives are unbearable. I need another filling, and I’m dreading going back to this dentist. Is there anything I can do?
Jirard in Los Angeles
The truth is, numbing a patient with minimal discomfort takes skill, time, and patience. If your dentist leaves the numbing gel on for some time, or delivers the injection slowly, this will lessen the discomfort. This gives your body time to adjust to the numbing agent. Injecting it quickly can cause the skin to stretch from too much liquid, and can increase pain.
Your dentist is placing the numbing agent as close to the affected area as possible, but trying to avoid the nerve. Everyone’s bodies are different, so it’s possible he came too close to your nerve, or even hit it. Hitting a nerve sends a shockwave of pain through your mouth.
You did the right thing by speaking up. However, your dentist not only dismissed your concerns, he refused to try. This is a major red flag, and shows he lacks in bedside manner.
There is something you can do to minimize pain. Make sure you are hydrated, as this can make getting numb easier. Also, feeling anxiety before numbing can cause a counter effect, where it’s harder to get numb. You can try relaxing techniques before going to the dentist, or ask for nitrous oxide to relax in place of the shot.
Since you are dreading going back to this particular dentist, it may be time to look for a sedation dentist in your area. Sedation dentists focus on gentle dentistry, which can reduce dental anxiety and pain. It may be worthwhile to find a dentist that listens to your needs.
This blog post is brought to you by Gilbert gentle dentist, Dr. Matthew Roper, of Vista Dorada Dental.