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A Warning About Dental Freezing, Especially For Children

When I was in elementary school, I remember spending several hours following an appointment with the dentist chewing away at the inner portions of my mouth, thinking that it was neat that I could gnaw away without feeling any pain.

It just didn't occur to me that the local anesthetic that I had received made it impossible for me to feel pain while I was doing severe damage to the tissues that lined my inner mouth.

Once the freezing wore off, I was in excruciating pain. So much so that my mom took me to the dentist again. I was told by the dental assistant that I had cut up almost all of the tissues that lined both sides of my inner mouth. I ended up suffering for about a week before my mouth fully healed itself.

Over the years, I've realized that my bad experience with dental freezing is quite common among children. Although I'm sure that all dentists intend to warn their patients not to chew on the structures in their inner mouths while they are still numb from anesthesia, perhaps there are times when a dentist is so busy that she or he forgets to mention this. And perhaps there are times when children don't fully understand this warning.

In any case, if you or your children ever require dental care that involves freezing, please don't hurt yourself like I did before the anesthesia wears off. Please share this message with every parent you know.


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janegirl said...

Oh my goodness. I thought I was the only one that had done such a thing! I remember as a child chewing on my inner cheek after a dental procedure and not even realizing what exactly I was chewing on. I also remember spitting out blood and it was then I 'caught on'---but not before having severely damaging my cheek tissue. I felt so stupid---even at age 6-ish---and I remember not even telling anybody about it. It simply healed in time and I learned a BIG and PAINFUL lesson. How important that dentists make sure to tell young children about this. (I did not know that the anesthesia was called 'dental freezing'.)
Friday, September 08, 2006 2:18:39 PM
Maurice said...

As a general dentist, seeing chewed up mouths in children who have received injections of local anesthetic is rare if both patient and mom are told and shown how touching with fingers is ok but NOT with teeth.
Still it happens and is quite painful and may require some antibiotics, analgesics, and healing mouth rinses.
The term dental freezing is not universal. In 40 years I have never seen or heard the term used.
More common terms are topical anesthetic, local anesthetic, numbing or sleeping gels or creams or liquids for the gums and teeth where work is to be done.
Friday, September 08, 2006 4:06:19 PM

Freezing was a common term for local anesthesia when I was a kid. I don't hear it used anymore but it was what my dentist called it back then.