Types of Anesthesia

Types of Anesthesia

As we all know, never-before-experienced events can cause anxiety and fear – and dental procedures are no exception to this rule. Many times, the most common concern is wondering if you’ll experience pain during the treatment. Fortunately, modern anesthesia technology makes it possible to perform complex surgeries in the office with little to no discomfort for the patient.

Many patients report pain-free and anxiety-free surgeries while using anesthesia. In cases involving dental surgery, local anesthesia can be used independently or with one or more other sedation options, including:

  • Nitrous oxide
  • Oral pre-medication
  • IV sedation

The more you know about anesthesia, the less anxious you’ll feel about it. Make sure to ask any questions and express all concerns during your consultation appointment. Below is a list of the types of anesthesia we may use during your dental treatments:

Local Anesthesia

Local anesthesia, also commonly known as Novocaine, is used during most dental procedures.  Your dentist will administer this medication as an injection, and it’s designed to temporarily numb the area. Local anesthesia is the only sedation option that eliminates pain entirely.

Patients can choose to use local anesthesia alone or combine it with other types of conscious sedation.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” is the lightest form of conscious sedation. It’s administered by breathing through a nasal mask and has several appealing properties.

It’s short-acting and completely leaves the body within minutes of turning it off. This allows patients to safely get themselves home without an escort. Nitrous oxide can also be patient-regulated, meaning you can feel more of its effects by breathing more frequently and deeply. Finally, there is little or no cost associated with using nitrous oxide.

Even at its highest level of effectiveness, nitrous oxide is only minimally effective at reducing awareness and anxiety. Most patients use it to take some of the edge off, but its effects will vary from person to person.

Oral Pre-Medication

Oral Pre-Medication Oral pre-medication is the next step up in the conscious sedation spectrum. It’s available in the form of a pill, and some of the common ones used are:

  • Valium
  • Halcion
  • Ativan

Oral pre-medication is more effective than nitrous oxide and is also inexpensive to administer. The patient generally takes it about an hour before their appointment, and the duration of the effects will vary.

Patients taking an oral sedative must have a responsible adult escort them to and from the office.  Although it’s more effective than nitrous oxide, the effectiveness and onset of action are unpredictable.

Intravenous Sedation

Intravenous sedation will put you in a safe, relaxed, and comfortable state throughout your surgery. It’s the most effective means of reducing awareness and anxiety for dental procedures. This form of sedation is administered through an intravenous (IV) line, making its effectiveness and onset of action more predictable.

The patient is technically conscious throughout the procedure but will be completely unaware of it in most cases. Of course, IV sedation has an increased cause and requires someone to escort you home.

IV sedation is certainly the best way to go for those who want the most comfort during their dental procedure.

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