Thoughts by Emily

Close Encounters with a Dental Dam and Tons of Anesthetic – Eeek

My experience with a dental dam and tons of anesthetic. A very numb face and a bruised cheek, just for starters. 

I feel badly for dentists because I doubt there are many people who actually get excited at the thought of visiting them. Going in for a teeth cleaning isn’t so bad, but my TMJ starts acting up and I always go away with some jaw discomfort. Luckily I LOVE my dentist, who is a close family friend, so that makes things a tad better. It still doesn’t take away the fact that I’m going to be laying in a chair with my mouth stretched open wide, mumbling uh huhs and uh uhs while being asked questions. I always love when the dental assistant or hygienist asks you a question that doesn’t exactly call for a yes or no answer. How do they think you are going to answer said question when your mouth is open and full of dental tools and fingers? It’s a favorite of mine!

I had the pleasure of visiting my general dentistry office this week. I wouldn’t exactly call it a pleasant experience. I was scheduled for 3, possibly 4, fillings. Doc wanted to get my mouth all fixed up so I could start invisalign (yay)! While I brush and floss every day, my teeth have just always been prone to cavities. I think it’s a genetic thing. Some people just don’t get ’em, and others do. I had three cavities on the lower right side, and a possible one on the upper left. Nothing showed up in the x-ray, but that upper left one has been killin’ me! I have had a lot of discomfort when chewing just about anything on the left side. Doc took a look and saw a tiny hole and decided to fill it.

dental damThis is me all prepped for getting those nasty cavities filled. Aren’t I pretty? Okay, so the dental dam isn’t exactly the most flattering accessory. I do have quite a few issues with my jaw, so having it stretched and contorted is quite painful for me. I tried my hardest to suck it up and be a good girl, so the hygienist could get ‘er done. The hygienist (love her by the way) got started on those lower rights with no problems, aside from the jaw discomfort. Then she started working on that top cavity and OUCH! So sensitive! Doc came in to take a look and noticed that there was quite a bit of decay up in there, now that he could see. He numbed me a second time and went on his way. While the numbing meds worked their magic, the hygienist went back to work on those lowers. Just the cold air being blown started to kill that upper tooth! I had to get a THIRD shot of numbing meds. That finally did the trick. Got all cavities filled.

It’s always such a HUGE relief when the dental dam is taken off. Dee (the hygienist) was sweet and helped massage my jaw, and even offered a warm cloth at one point during the procedure. So, can you imagine what three shots of numbing meds does to someone? Let me show ya (no laughing)! This is me trying to smile.

numb face

Aren’t I beautiful? Okay, don’t answer that. Even the hygienist laughed at me and couldn’t believe how numb I was. Now try covering half of my face so you can really see the difference. Then cover the other half. Kinda funny! I have to say that I am still recovering and this was done on Wednesday. My cheek is still puffy and I am even bruised! Those first two nights, I couldn’t even sleep on my left side because the entire left side of my face hurt. 🙁

bruised cheek


It’s starting to feel better and I can almost open my mouth all the way again. I am just nervous to go out in public because I look like I’ve been punched in the face.

Such is the life of one who gets cavities. I’m very thankful for my dentist, who fixes me up and makes eating not be so painful. I just wish there was an easier way!


About the author

Emily Buys


  • Can I say I feel your pain. On Tuesday I had to visit the dentist as well. I have an extremely dry mouth so I get cavities easily and they usually turn into root canals. I had a root canal done about 10 years ago and finally it failed and the dentist had to do an extraction on that tooth, but there was nothing left of my tooth below the gum line. It took him putting a shot of Novocaine in my gums every 10 mins for 90 mins to get it out. I am still in pain and my face is still swollen on the left side. My sinuses are even swollen shut on that side. I hate going to the dentist, but I will now have a bridge protecting three teeth on that side so no more issues in that area.

  • I have bad teeth thanks to genetics as well! I brush at least twice a day and floss at least every other day…yet I still have at least one cavity almost every time I go to the dentist.

    I’m also hard to numb. Once, the dentist told me that I could have one more shot, but that if it didn’t work I’d either have to tough it out or give up and come back some other day. I ended up just toughing it out. Another time, the shot went into the wrong nerve and the area around my eye went numb and my vision went blurry. Talk about scary!

    I’m glad that you’re all fixed up!

  • I know, huh? Fortunately my new dentist discovered early on that my teeth appear to be slightly resistant to anesthetic, and had it logged in my records. 🙂

  • I’ve had cavities filled before but never had a dental dam used on me. I have had multiple shots of anesthesia, however, and it’s crazy what it does to your muscles! I wish I had taken a photo of me trying to smile now…

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