A Concerned Dental Patient’s Guide to General Anaesthesia

When you or a child you care for faces an intimidating dental procedure, you may have worries. Many patients worry about the pain they or a loved one could experience while the dentist works. Fortunately, dentists have many options for pain prevention and management, including general anaesthesia.

In this blog, we walk you through the protocol and uses of general anaesthesia. This blog will help you understand why your dentist may recommend general anaesthesia the next time you come in for an oral surgery.

Dental General Anaesthesia Differs from Its Medical Counterpart

General anaesthesia consists of sedation that puts a patient to sleep during a procedure, as opposed to local anaesthesia which simply numbs a specific bodily area. The medicine used to achieve general anaesthesia depends on the country in which it’s administered and the authorisations of the dental office.

However, all dental general anaesthesia differs from medical general anaesthesia, which is the kind of anaesthesia you would experience during major surgery. Medical anaesthesia usually includes a paralytic component designed to keep a patient completely still. Dental anaesthesia generally lacks this component.

Dentists usually use general anaesthetic primarily to prevent a patient’s high anxiety from affecting a procedure. This type of anaesthesia is less invasive than its medical counterpart.

General Anaesthesia Is Safe When Used in a Monitored Professional Setting

Many patients feel concerned about becoming unconscious due to medication. While this process can feel intimidating, it is considered safe when performed in a certified office by dental anaesthetists.

Your dentist will work with you to eliminate any potential safety risks beforehand. He or she will ask questions about the following factors which could affect the anaesthesia’s strength and efficacy:

  • Any family history of issues concerning sedation
  • Non-prescription vitamins, supplements and medication you take currently
  • ¬†Prescription medication you take currently
  • Your allergies
  • Your history with anaesthesia and dental sedation

Your dentist may also evaluate your oral health and your alcohol and tobacco habits to determine your eligibility for this sedation method.

During the process, your dental team will monitor your vital signs to ensure that medication works properly and safely for the duration of the procedure.

Use of General Anaesthesia Depends on Patients Rather than Procedures

Most dentists do not automatically recommend general anaesthesia based on the upcoming procedure.

Some patients can undergo highly complex dental treatments without difficulty, but other patients struggle to control their anxiety or movements during a procedure.

Common situations where dentists consider the use of general anaesthesia include:

  • Lengthy and/or complex procedures, including oral surgery
  • Treatment of a patient with dental phobias
  • Treatment of a patient with diminished muscle control
  • Treatment of a patient with special needs who may not fully understand and comply with instructions during the procedure

To qualify for this sedation option, you must be willing to and capable of complying with specific restrictions before and after the procedure. These restrictions usually include not eating before the treatment and avoiding alcohol for a specified period of time afterward.

Typically, dentists don’t make general anaesthesia available for routine or relatively painless procedures.

However, if you have an upcoming appointment for a more invasive procedure, you may have the option of using general anaesthesia. Discuss your nervousness level, medical history and response to other sedation types with your dentist as you make this decision.

While general anaesthesia isn’t a tool your dentist uses at most appointments, it does represent an option which can reduce anxiety and efficiency in difficult circumstances. Your dentist can let you know if general anaesthesia is right for you.

For more information about oral health and hygiene for each member of your family, visit our blog section.