How Long Does Novocaine Last and What You Need to Know About Its Side Effects

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 26th, 2023

If you’ve ever had dental work, odds are you’ve been introduced to Novocaine. This local anesthetic is pivotal for dental procedures as it makes the experience far more tolerable, numbing the area and reducing pain. It’s critical to understand how long its effects last, as well as what side effects and safety measures to consider. This article aims to be your comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about Novocaine, from its basic function to how to handle its after-effects safely.

What Is Novocaine?

Novocaine is a local anesthetic that’s commonly used in dental procedures to help manage and alleviate pain. It works by inhibiting nerve cells from sending pain signals to your brain, allowing the dentist to carry out the required operation with minimal discomfort. To administer this anesthetic, a dentist will usually use a fine needle to inject Novocaine into the area around the tooth in question.


Why Is Novocaine Used?

Novocaine is your go-to option for numerous dental treatments. For instance, if you’re scheduled to have a filling, a quick shot of Novocaine will be administered to help you get through the procedure pain-free. It’s also frequently used in more complex procedures like crown placements and root canals to ensure that the patient experiences as little discomfort as possible. In essence, Novocaine serves to make dental procedures bearable for those who might otherwise be deterred by the fear of pain.

How Long Does the Effect of Novocaine Last?

Contrary to what you may think, the numbing effects of Novocaine are not long-lasting. Typically, numbness starts to set in within 5 to 10 minutes after the injection. In most cases, you can expect the numbing sensation to last anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes. However, dentists often mix Novocaine with epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, to prolong the anesthetic’s effectiveness. This combination usually lasts around 90 minutes, giving the dentist ample time to complete the procedure.

How to Speed Up the Wearing Off of Novocaine

Increase Physical Activity

Increasing your blood flow can be an effective way to expedite the wearing off of Novocaine. Engaging in light activities like walking, cycling, or even a quick jog can stimulate circulation, helping to break down the anesthesia faster.

Apply Heat to the Affected Area

Another method that may quicken the fade of numbness is the application of heat. Using a warm, moist compress on the affected region can facilitate blood flow, which can aid in flushing out the Novocaine.

Gently Massage the Area

If the affected area is still numb, consider giving it a light massage to stimulate blood flow. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before doing so and refrain from massaging if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Novocaine: Side Effects and Risks

While generally considered safe, it’s important to be aware of Novocaine’s potential side effects and contraindications. Before undergoing any procedure that involves Novocaine, be sure to discuss your medical history and any medications you are taking with your dentist.

Common Side Effects

After the procedure, you may experience mild side effects like dizziness, headaches, sleepiness, twitching muscles, or tingling at the injection site. These symptoms usually subside within a few hours.

Severe Side Effects

However, some people may exhibit severe allergic reactions to Novocaine. Symptoms of this include hives, itching, swelling, and even difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these, seek medical attention immediately.

Rare Side Effects

Although infrequent, some may experience nausea, seizures, vomiting, trembling, chest pain, or irregularities in their heartbeat. Should you notice any of these, it’s critical to inform your healthcare provider right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Be Allergic to Novocaine?

Though rare, it’s possible to be allergic to Novocaine. Symptoms might include localized inflammation, itching, hives, and difficulty breathing. Severe cases may involve signs of anaphylaxis, requiring immediate medical attention.

Can Novocaine Cause Headaches?

While headaches are a common side effect, they could also be attributed to other factors such as stress or a drop in blood pressure.


Novocaine is a critical tool in dental care, particularly for procedures lasting less than 90 minutes. The anesthetic is generally safe but comes with its set of precautions and potential side effects. It’s crucial for anyone planning to undergo a dental procedure involving Novocaine to discuss their medical history and current medications with their dentist to mitigate any risks.

By understanding how Novocaine works, its duration, and how to safely deal with its after-effects, you’re better equipped for your next dental visit.


Editorial Staff

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