I need a new dental crown, but I dislike having my mouth numb for hours afterward. Can anything speed my recovery?

Answers from Alan Carr, D.M.D.

Dental work — including fillings, crowns and root canals — requires a local anesthetic that may also numb your lips, cheeks and tongue. The numbness can last two or more hours after the procedure. When your mouth and lips are numb, it can be difficult to smile, talk or drink.

Phentolamine mesylate (OraVerse) speeds up the return of normal sensation following dental work. Studies show that phentolamine mesylate — given as an injection after dental work is finished — returns normal sensations in the lips, cheeks and tongue faster than without the drug, usually in about an hour.

If a dental procedure produces soft tissue or bone pain and a local anesthetic provides prolonged comfort after the procedure, the use of phentolamine mesylate may not be recommended.

How phentolamine mesylate works isn't fully understood, but it's thought to increase blood flow to the soft tissue area. Phentolamine mesylate only works if the original anesthetic contains a medication that narrows your blood vessels (vasoconstrictor), such as epinephrine.

Phentolamine mesylate belongs to a class of drugs that can cause low blood pressure, rapid heartbeats and irregular heart rhythms. Though such events are uncommon in reports of phentolamine mesylate use, tell your dentist if you have a history of heart or blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.

Phentolamine mesylate is not recommended for children under 6 years of age or for children who weigh less than 33 pounds (15 kilograms). The use of phentolamine mesylate requires an additional fee and isn't covered by dental insurance.

Aug. 05, 2014