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FAQ:  Novocaine

Pregnancy and Novacaine: Why is it when you are pregnant that the use of long lasting novacaine can't be used?

I just had a root canal done and during the procedure I was in so much pain because they could only use the short acting novacaine.

I know that they use epinephrine in combination with other products for longer lasting relief. What is the danger with the use of epinephrine while pregnant especially considering it is a pretty low dose? ...Visitor from MN

In my opinion, I see no reason why you could not have had a local anesthetic with a low concentration of epinephrine which would have prolonged the effects of the loical.

To be in pain during root canal treatment is not the standard of care in this day and age. During the critical first trimester of pregnancy, routine dental care is usually held off until later in the pregnancy or after the baby is born. However in an emergency dental situation such as a tooth abscess, dental care is provided as needed.

Epinephrine acts by constricting blood flow around the tooth that is getting numbed. Thus, the local anesthetic does not get "washed" away as fast by the bloodstream which keeps the tooth "comfortably numb" for longer periods of time.

This is also the reason patients sometimes experience an increased heart beat or heart rate for a short while after receiving a local anesthetic. The body is tricked into thinking that blood flow is restricted somewhere in the body and trys to compensate by beating harder and faster to get blood into that area.

Some patients think they are "allergic" to novacaine or epinephrine when they feel these effects, but it is only a slight reaction to the "epi" which will pass in a minute or so.

Your dentist may have been overly concerned that your baby would experience these effects from the "epi" and prefered not to use it.. As I said, a low concentration of "epi" to keep your root canal appointment pain-free probably would have been no problem.

Editorial Staff

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