General Anaesthesia

A combination of medications to help put you in a sleep-like state.

Sometimes people avoid visiting the dentist because of an unpleasant, or traumatic experience; in other cases, people can suffer from major anxiety or fear that hasn't come from trauma; furthermore, some people simply have sensitive teeth and choose not to endure any pain during dental procedures. In any event, a general anaesthetic is a helpful solution that allows fearful or anxious patients to get the care they need without experiencing the pain or worries they may have previously held. Our dentists can often use a general anaesthetic for complicated oral surgery and an array of other services. However, if you have fear or anxiety about an upcoming procedure, you can discuss your options with your National Dental Care dentist.

What is General Anaesthesia?

General anaesthesia refers to a combination of medications that work together to relax your body into a sleep-like state, before services like dental surgery may be required. Although the process can vary, general anaesthesia typically includes a mix of intravenous medication and one or more gasses that you inhale - this is a popular choice for most anxious patients, and parents with children who may be too young to handle more mild sedation techniques.

What to Expect During and After Dental Treatment?

Your anaesthetist will typically deliver the medication through an IV (intravenous line), into your arm or hand; in other situations, you may opt to wear a mask and breathe in gases that help you drift into a sleep-like state. Furthermore, once you fall into a sleep-like state, the anaesthetist may give you a muscle relaxant to help ease your body, and insert a breathing tube in your mouth to ensure you get the oxygen you need during a dental procedure. Your anaesthetist will adjust your medications if needed during this time, and will continuously monitor your breathing, temperature, and blood pressure to ensure they are at safe levels throughout the procedure. If an issue does arise during your procedure, the anaesthetist will address it with medication or fluids.

Once your dentist has completed your dental procedure, your anaesthetist will reverse the medication to slowly wake you up from your sleep. You will likely feel slightly confused and disoriented when you wake, but this feeling will soon fade, and you may continue with your day as planned.

Some common side effects of general anaesthesia can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sore throat, dry mouth, mild laryngitis
  • Achy muscles
  • Itching
  • Shivering
  • Drowsiness

Some people do experience pain after they awaken from anaesthesia. Your National Dental Care dentist and anaesthetist will discuss your pain and side effects, which vary based on your condition and the exact type of dental procedure that was performed. In some cases, your dentist might provide you with medication to reduce or eliminate pain and sickness.

Contact us today to make an appointment and discuss your dental treatment needs. Learn about your options and let us help you get the dental treatment you need without fear or anxiety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before receiving a general anaesthesia, there are a few things you will need to do. Before a procedure your digestive system will need to be empty. Our dentist(s) will go over any specific preparation with you, but typically you cannot eat for at least six hours prior to your procedure. In some cases, you might be able to drink water or other clear liquids closer to the time of your dental procedure. If you are taking any medications (prescription or over-the-counter), you will need to inform your dentist. You might also have to avoid taking aspirin or blood thinners up to one week before your dental procedure. Blood-thinning agents can cause complications during your dental procedure. Dietary supplements, vitamins, and herbal treatments can also cause complications during surgery, so this may need to be avoided. You should discuss this with your dentist, especially if you take ginseng, garlic, St. John's wort, or Ginkgo Biloba. You should also share any medical conditions you have with your dentist (for example, sleep apnoea) as this may cause conflicts with the medication(s); however, during a procedure the anaesthetist will continuously monitor your breathing, temperature and blood pressure, to ensure you are safe at all times.
An anaesthetist will be the one to administer a general anaesthetic, and will spend a lot of time assessing each patient before administering any medication(s). When one of our dentists uses a general anaesthetic for a dental procedure, they will work side-by-side with an anaesthetist - these medical specialists have professional training and experience in the administration of general anaesthesia.
In the vast majority of cases, general anaesthesia is a safe option - even for those who suffer from a variety of health problems. The risk of complications will depend more on the type of dental procedure you are undergoing, and your overall physical health can also play into this factor. According to the Mayo Clinic, older patients, patients with serious medical problems, and those who must undergo more complex procedures have an increased risk of confusion, pneumonia, stroke, and heart attack after a surgical procedure - all of these risks are more related to the surgery than the actual anaesthesia. Some other factors can increase the risks associated with general anaesthetics. They include smoking, heavy alcohol use, seizures, sleep apnoea, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other medical conditions involving the major organs of your body. Drug allergies or a history of allergic reactions to anaesthesia can also lead to complications.

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