What’s The Difference Between General Anesthesia And IV Sedation For Dental Procedures?

If going to the dentist gives you anxiety, you may want to consider sedation dentistry as a friendlier alternative. Sedation dentistry uses medication to make dental procedures more comfortable, whether you're having a long dental surgery or simply having a tooth filled. The two deepest forms of sedation available for dental procedures are general anesthesia and intravenous sedation, and both can be used to help patients with severe anxiety about seeing the dentist. Below, you'll find more information about the differences between these two forms of sedation when they're used for dental procedures. 

General Anesthesia

If you've watched medical shows on TV, you've likely seen general anesthesia being used. It's commonly used when patients are undergoing surgery in the operating room. General anesthesia uses a combination of medications to make you fully unconscious. You won't be able to feel anything during the procedure or remember anything about it afterward.

In sedation dentistry, general anesthesia may be recommended for lengthy dental surgeries like removing fully impacted wisdom teeth. Fully impacted wisdom teeth are trapped beneath your gums, so a dental surgeon needs to make incisions into your gums to extract them.

For routine dental procedures, however, general anesthesia is usually not necessary. It's also more involved than IV sedation. General anesthesia paralyzes your muscles, so you'll need to have a breathing tube inserted after you're put to sleep. It also slows down your heart rate, so your blood pressure and other vital signs will need to be carefully monitored during the procedure.

IV Sedation

IV sedation is commonly used in sedation dentistry because it's good at eliminating dental anxiety. It uses a sedative that's pushed into your bloodstream through a catheter that's placed in one of your veins. Since the sedative enters directly into your bloodstream, it takes effect very quickly.

Unlike general anesthesia, IV sedation doesn't cause you to become fully unconscious and it doesn't paralyze your muscles. You'll be able to breathe on your own throughout the procedure.

Overall, IV sedation is usually the best choice because you'll still remain partially conscious during the procedure, allowing you to breathe on your own. However, general anesthesia may be recommended for more invasive dental surgeries when your dentist wants to make sure you're fully unconscious throughout the entire procedure.

If you have severe dental anxiety that's making you skip visits to the dentist and harming your oral health, find a sedation dentist in your area and ask them about the forms of sedation they use in their practice. With the above two forms of deep sedation, you can undergo dental procedures even when going to the dentist gives you massive anxiety.

Contact a local dental office to learn more about sedation dentistry.