Bell's palsy: Will local anesthetic worsen it?

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Bell's palsy: Will local anesthetic worsen it?

Question

I still have some residual effects from Bell's palsy. I need dental work on a broken tooth, but it's on the side of my face affected by Bell's palsy. Will injections to deaden the tooth adversely affect the nerves that have been damaged?

Annette
Mississippi

Answer

The short answer is no. Bell's palsy affects the facial nerve (cranial nerve VII or CN-VII), which controls facial movement. During dental procedures, a dentist may inject a local anesthetic into a branch of the trigeminal nerve (CN-V) — which is a different nerve. The trigeminal nerve controls sensation and pain in the face, mouth, teeth and gums. For this reason, local anesthetic doesn't involve the nerves affected by previous Bell's palsy.

Facial and trigeminal nerves

Illustration of facial and trigeminal nerves

The cranial nerves are a group of nerves that connect the brain to the head. They include the trigeminal nerve, which controls sensation and pain in the face, and the facial nerve, which controls facial movement.

Last Updated: 03/10/2005
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