Dentists, Epinephrine in Novacaine and Racing Hearts and Jitters

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I had two dentist appointments this past week. It was for teeth cleaning. Because of my everyday dizziness, I kept putting it off (and off and off…).

I finally made the appointment and it was agreed that the cleaning would be split up into two appointments and that they would use freezing to make it easier on me and on them.

Sounds good so far.

I go to my first appointment and the other dentist in the practice puts the freezing in my mouth and goes away. And then, my heart started racing and I was very jittery for a few minutes afterwards. It felt a lot longer because we were waiting for the freezing to take affect. I had that happen to me once before and wondered if it might be the freezing but it was faint and lasted for only a few seconds so I thought it could easily be nerves. I also have a heart that likes to skip beats but have worn holter monitors and have been told everything is fine.

The reason for the heart racing and jitters is because of the epinephrine that is part of the freezing dentists use. Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is used because it constricts the blood vessels near your tooth, allowing the dentist to work longer and only allows a small amount of the local anesthetic to enter your body.

For my second appointment, we used a different freezing solution without epinephrine and not one problem. No jitters or nervousness and no racing heart which meant no anxiety. The only problem I may have had was the numbness going away sooner than normal because of using a different type of freezing solution. If that happened, my dentist would have given me more freezing to get through the rest of the appointment.

I didn’t need to have more. My appointment was delayed by about 45 minutes because the fire alarm went off when I was being given the freezing. I was just starting to feel things again but I was almost done so didn’t bother getting more.

I don’t think I’ve suddenly become allergic to it because, except for the one instance from a couple of years ago, it’s never bothered me. But, there was more freezing used because the whole top half of my mouth was frozen. My dentist said that shouldn’t be why I had the racing heart and jitters but it wasn’t him that gave me the freezing the first time, it was the other dentist at the practice so I don’t know.

When you’re having half of your mouth frozen, it’s a lot of novacaine. My dentist is also very good at using only enough freezing necessary and it’s usually gone about an hour after the appointment.  My mouth stayed numb for about 5 hours afterwards. It’s also possible that the needle entered a small blood vessel and some of the epinephrine entered the blood stream which would also produce an increased heart rate so, again, I don’t know.

If you have had this problem or have a pre-existing health problem, talk with your dentist. Here’s a link to an article called Can Dental Anesthetic Really Make Your Heart Beat Faster? that you can take with you to your next dental visit if this is something that concerns you.



9 Replies to “Dentists, Epinephrine in Novacaine and Racing Hearts and Jitters”

  1. Wow, had no idea. I always take Valium now when I go to the dentist because it will trigger a vertigo attack. bright lights, moving chair…they always forget!, me not understanding them, that dang whirling noise, fear! and when you said freezing, I thought, is that something different, do they spray that on, that would be cool! no needles like they use here. But no, you mentioned needles, so, it’s the same as we call, numbing you with novicaine…dang, I hate those shots. I really hate that stuff, I would almost rather hurt. But it’s necessary when I have to have these dang cavities filled. Since I vomit so much due to vertigo, my teeth are not as wonderful as they used to be. (until I was 49, I had only 1 cavity ever in my whole life! ever!) Now they are thinner, and much more prone to cavities and breakage.
    I need to go to the dentist now, but $$$ and I can eat without pain. So it can wait. I chose to go to the eye doctor. I couldn’t see without pain…headaches.

    I keep saying…when the house sells.
    ah….it’s like, when I when the lottery. haha.

    glad you have clean teeth!


    1. I never knew either! I thought, whatever they gave you is what they gave you. But, if nothing happens, no need to change or ask what else there is. And a spray instead of needles would be great, wouldn’t it?

      Do you have your new glasses yet?


      1. yep, got the new glasses, but haven’t gotten the new haircut, so haven’t posted a picture. the glasses are super cool, but have taken a little bit of getting used to. I was a bit scared I was over the top! However, we went out when in Charlotte and I kept getting women, telling me how much they liked my glasses! They were trendy women too! I thought…cool. I’m bringing it!
        It’s strange though, I often just smile and nod or don’t pay attention to people now because I can’t hear them….Stuart had to tell me….she’s complementing you on your glasses, not trying to sell you something! haha


    1. Your welcome. It’s amazing what we find out when we ask or, sadly, when we experience something and have to ask. Don’t know why we’re not told there are different types of freezing, it should be an option of what to choose what’s best. Or, even better, novacaine should be the option, not the standard.


  2. I need to be numb to get my teeth cleaned because they are so sensitive. I used to get Novocain injections which meant 2 visits, and it cost a lot without dental insurance.
    Then, my favourite cleaner, Erica, came up with the idea of using the stuff that is rubbed on to numb the gum before the needle is used.
    I forget what it’s called, but it numbs my gums/teeth right away and she can put more on if it’s wearing off. She really cleans and goes into all the tough spots, but I don’t feel a thing unless the numbing starts to wear off.
    This way, my face only stays numb afterward for a short while. Of course, there is pain later from the cleaning, but the actual process is so much easier.
    If I remember what it’s called, I’ll pass it along. I don’t know if it would work for you and Wendy.


    1. I’m glad that works for you. I don’t know the name of it either but will have to remember it for next year. Already have the appointment. lol. We all agreed on the freezing because it had been years since I had them cleaned. Bad of me, I know, but dizziness and colds and such over the years kept me away. And then when I felt ok, I would try to enjoy that time as well without doing medical visits.


      1. Don’t blame you for putting it off. I did for years, too. But now I do more often — hurts less and finds things that might turn ugly — like exposed roots and potential abscesses.
        Yuk! Enough on my dental woes.


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