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J Am Dent Assoc. 2010 Jul;141(7):836-44.

Occurrence of paresthesia after dental local anesthetic administration in the United States.

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Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, 124 Edward St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Erratum in

  • J Am Dent Assoc. 2010 Aug;141(8):944.



Several studies have suggested that the likelihood of paresthesia may depend on the local anesthetic used. The purpose of this study was to determine if the type of local anesthetic administered had any effect on reports of paresthesia in dentistry in the United States.


The authors obtained reports of paresthesia involving dental local anesthetics during the period from November 1997 through August 2008 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System. They used chi(2) analysis to compare expected frequencies, on the basis of U.S. local anesthetic sales data, with observed reports of oral paresthesia.


During the study period, 248 cases of paresthesia occurring after dental procedures were reported. Most cases (94.5 percent) involved mandibular nerve block. The lingual nerve was affected in 89.0 percent of cases. Reports involving 4 percent prilocaine and 4 percent articaine were 7.3 and 3.6 times, respectively, greater than expected (chi(2), P < .0001) on the basis of local anesthetic use by U.S. dentists.


These data suggest that paresthesia occurs more commonly after use of 4 percent local anesthetic formulations. These findings are consistent with those reported in a number of studies from other countries.


Until further research indicates otherwise, dentists should consider these results when assessing the risks and benefits of using 4 percent local anesthetics for mandibular block anesthesia.

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