Can you eat when your mouth is numb?

Picture this, you just got back from the dentist after a routine checkup and suddenly your mouth feels like it went 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. The question on your mind is can I eat? The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no because it all depends on what type of numbing agent was used during your dental procedure.

Understanding Numbing Agents

Before we dive into whether or not you can grub with a numb mouth, let’s discuss the types of numbing agents dentists use.


Novocain is one of the most common local anesthetics and contains only caine-based compounds to block pain receptors in certain areas. It also has epinephrine to help control bleeding but can cause rapid heartbeat for some patients.


Lidocaine is another popular local anesthesia that works by blocking sodium channels which helps stop nerve impulses responsible for relaying sensation to the brain. However, unlike novocain lidocaine doesn’t contain any ‘caines’. So don’t expect any candy 😉

Now that you know about Novacain vs Lidocaine we can better determine if stuffing your face with pizza immediately following a procedure is possible.

Effects of Different Types of Anesthetics on Eating

Some (but not all) cosmetic and restorative dental procedures require local anesthesia injections administered directly into gum tissue surrounding affected teeth prior to treatment. With both novacain and lidocaine this causes a temporary “tri-fecta” effect; loss of taste buds (which actually might be good depending on who made grandma’s famous tuna-noodle surprise), swelling around injection sites caused by built-up scar-like collagen, muscle trismus causing decreased range-of-motion in jaws opening mechanism due to inflammation – which essentially makes opening up wide enough for eating challenging but remember practice makes perfect or at least more accustomed. As a result, eating can be difficult after dental anesthesia injections are given.

Solid Foods

Eating solid foods is like trying to park a semi-truck in an itty-bitty parking space when your mouth is numb from local anesthesia – not easy! The reason behind this is because chewing can cause cheek and tongue biting which could lead to painful periods of healing after the procedure. Unfortunately,it’s best advised to wait until you fully regain feeling back before attempting any food that requires heavy chomping action.
However ultra-soft foods (think applesauce) don’t require as much effort so heeding the old adage ‘slow and steady wins the race’ might actually pay off here.


If there was ever time for milkshakes…this would be it! In fact liquid diets post-procedure seem borderline necessary, as swelling and inflammation typically peak around two days following administration of injection while increasing fluid intake notably assists with lymphatic drainage by carrying away excess tissue fluids generated during wound-healing process.

So How Long Do You Wait?

The length of time required for loss-of-feeling sensations brought on by local anesthesia used depends largely upon several factors such as individual metabolic speed, average duration administered dosage injected into gums prior treatment executed lower jaws, etc. It really varies person-to-person but rising from chair out dental office without feeling back yet, give or take two hours maximum amount time for numbness commence wearing off gradually(?). However,before returning back fun activities including munching we advise waiting additional hour or so just ensure sensitivity returned completely.


As much tempting pizza cheese may beckon you with its siren song after you leave dentist office post-injection remember soft solid food alternatives are better option especially first day your taste buds will thank ‘ewe.’ Focusing also on liquids (especially cold ones!) avoid tongue and cheek biting while you’re still in numb zone. But remember, no worries if starting resemble Alvin chipmunk a little more than your usual everyday self – just take few deep breaths sit back relax and be proud made through dental procedure like boss!

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