Subcutaneous emphysema during restorative dentistry


Robert J. Steelman, Oregon Health & Science University, MS: CDRC-P, 707 SW Gaines Rd., Portland, OR 97239, USA. E-mail:


Background.  Subcutaneous emphysema is a rare occurrence in the dental setting. When it does occur, the entity may be mistaken for an anaphylactic reaction to a local anaesthetic agent or other medications used in dental surgery.

Case Report.  During restorative treatment of a left second primary molar air was introduced under an operculum. Communication with submandibular and sublingual spaces to the mediastinum was established.

Conclusion.  Therapy for subcutaneous emphysema involves, correct diagnosis and antibiotic coverage. Subcutaneous air will resolve over time so observation is indicated.