Dental Sedation vs. Anaesthesia


In India people avoid dental check-up and treatments till the disease cause pain or sensitivity. And people are more afraid after consulting a dentist, which is a fear about the treatment they are about to undergo. Anywhere from 50% to 80% of adults have some form of dental anxiety, ranging from mild to severe, according to a study published in the Journal of Dental Hygiene.

Remember, you are not alone and dentists can help you with the help of different measures to overcome dental phobia. including sedation and anaesthesia. Learn more about the differences between sedation vs. anaesthesia and why your dentist may recommend one of these during your next dental procedure.

Both sedation and general anaesthesia are used to help patients during dental treatments. They reduce anxiety, prevent pain and ensure the safety of the treatment procedure. Both can make you feel drowsy, limit your coordination and affect your ability to remember the procedure, which is why you should always bring an escort to the dental office if you are undergoing sedation or anaesthesia. Despite these similarities, sedation and anaesthesia are not the same.

Under sedation, you will feel relaxed and may fall into a light sleep, as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes. Often, your dentist refers to this as conscious sedation because you are awake, though in a state of depressed alertness. You will likely be able to maintain your own airway and respond to verbal or physical cues. This method of sedation is delivered through a face mask using nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, or it can be administered as an oral pill or via injection.

As for general anaesthesia, patients are completely asleep throughout the procedure and won’t remember the treatment afterward, according to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP). Qualified professionals will administer general anaesthesia through an IV line, and patients often require assistance with their airway. Typically, this procedure occurs in a surgical centre, hospital or properly equipped dental office with trained anaesthesia professionals, as the AAP explains.

Who Are the Candidates for Sedation and Anaesthesia?

Your dentist will talk you through your options and make a recommendation before choosing between sedation vs. anaesthesia. In adult dentistry, treatments such as wisdom tooth extraction, dental implant etc are treatment often involves sedation or anaesthesia.

According to a review in the Annals of Maxillofacial Surgery, conscious sedation can be appropriate for a patient with dental phobia, a patient who has a medical condition aggravated by stress, such as asthma or epilepsy, or any patient undergoing an extensive procedure. Additionally, mentally challenged patients and children over the age of 1 can receive conscious sedation, as can any patient who is nonresponsive to local anaesthesia, which is used to numb a specific area of the mouth.

General anaesthesia may be useful for patients with special needs, such as intellectual disabilities and physical impairments, as explained by a review in the Journal of Dental Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine. According to the British Columbia Dental Association, both sedation and general anaesthesia can help any patient with a significant gag reflex or difficulty opening their mouth.

Our dental team is trained to monitor your vitals and be aware of your needs throughout your procedure, but you can help by providing a comprehensive medical history. Additionally, your dentist may instruct you to limit food or beverage consumption several hours prior to your procedure to minimize certain risks. Whether they recommend sedation or general anaesthesia, be sure to ask your dentist any questions you may have prior to your procedure, and rest assured that your safety is our priority.

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