What Is a Dental Nerve Block?

Have you been to the dentist and received local freezing? If so, then you have had a dental nerve block. Most dental procedures produce strong sensory stimuli to the point that it affects the amount of general anesthetic required and a painful recovery. Dental nerve blocks interrupt these sensory stimuli locally and should be a component of overall pain management. Dental nerve blocks can decrease the amount of gas anesthetic required- this helps decrease the possible negative side effects such as hypotension (low blood pressure), bradycardia (slow heartbeat) and hypoventilation (low respiratory rate).

Dental Nerve blocks also ease a patient’s recovery from anesthesia because adverse side effects such as hypertension (high blood pressure), tachycardia (fast heartbeat) and tachypnea (high respiratory rate) are minimized because of decreased oral pain.

Local anesthetics (nerve blocks) completely block sensory nerve transmission and prevent secondary (central) pain sensitization. Local blocks are often used in conjunction with other injectable and oral pain medications. The benefits of using multiple pain medications for dental and oral surgery, specifically dental nerve blocks, include:

  • Owners expect effective pain management
  • Pets are often discharged the same day after dental procedures, and owners want their pets to be as alert and pain-free as possible
  • Pets recover faster and with fewer complications
  • The amount and inhalant anesthetic required is decreased
  • They eliminate the pain perception which results in a smoother anesthesia experience
  • Local blocks continue to give pain management after the dental procedure is over, keeping the pet more comfortable
  • Signs of pain after dental procedures such as rough recoveries, vocalization, restlessness, pawing at the mouth, behaviour changes, decreased appetite and depression are minimized when dental blocks are used

Common dental and oral surgical procedures where dental nerve blocks are indicated include:

  • Surgical and non-surgical extractions
  • Advanced periodontal treatments, such as root planning, periodontal debridement and periodontal flap surgery
  • Oral trauma that involves lacerations of the lips, gums and tongue
  • Foreign body removal and jaw fractures that require hard and soft tissue surgical repair
  • Biopsies of masses
  • Corrective hard and soft tissue oral surgery (i.e. palate surgery and reconstruction surgery)

There are four main dental nerve blocks that we use. The Infraorbital Nerve Block affects the upper incisors, canines and the first, second and third premolars as well as the soft and hard tissues in front of the upper fourth premolars. The Maxillary Nerve Block affects the upper fourth premolar, upper molars and the soft and hard tissue behind the fourth premolars, including the hard and soft palate. The Middle Mental Nerve Block primarily affects the bottom incisors and the soft tissue around them. The Inferior Alveolar Nerve Block or the Mandibular Block affects all the teeth in the lower jaw, including the soft and hard tissues.

Dental nerve blocks are relatively safe when used correctly. Complications resulting from oral nerve blocks have been described in human dentistry. However, the incidence is extremely low. Complications are uncommon in pets. Dental nerve blocks significantly improve pet care and are a valuable addition to pain management for dental and oral surgical procedures here at Kingston Veterinary Clinic.

Written by Kristine Hanson, RVT


dog dental

What Is a Dental Nerve Block?

Have you been to the dentist and received local freezing? If so, then you have had a dental nerve block. Most dental procedures produce strong sensory stimuli to the point that it affects the amount of general anesthetic required and a painful recovery.

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Last updated: December 14, 2021

Dear Clients,

With the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in our region, we are temporarily moving back to curbside service. Effective Tuesday, December 14th we are not allowing clients in exam rooms with their pets. Here is what you can expect:

  • Come in to let us know that you're here for your appointment. 2 clients will be allowed at a time in our reception area for food and med pick up and to inform us that they are here for their appointment.
  • Please wait in your car after letting us know you've arrived. Once you have notified us that you are here for your appointment we ask that you wait in your car and we will come out and collect your furry family member for their appointment.
  • The doctor will call once the appointment is done and you can then come back to the reception desk to take care of the invoice and collect your furry family member.
  • Face masks are required when interacting with our team and entering the building. Please sanitze your hands if you come inside.
  • Food and medication pick-ups inside. If there are more than 2 people in our waiting area, we ask that you wait outside until there is sufficient space.
  • Washrooms will be closed to the public until further notice.
  • These measures are temporary and we will reassess as time goes on. Please keep a lookout for any further updates from our team. Together, we can all help in stopping the spread of COVID-19. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call us at (613) 542-7337.


    If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.


    We are OPEN with the following hours:

    Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Tuesday, Friday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Saturday: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
    Sunday: CLOSED


    Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - Your dedicated team at Kingston Veterinary Clinic