Dental Sedation and General Anaesthetic

Dental Sedation and General Anaesthetic

Frequently asked questions about sedation and GA

  1. Why might I want IV sedation or GA
  2. What is dental IV and GA sedation?
  3. Can I have dental sedation?


1. Why might I want IV sedation or GA?

Dental anxiety is common and causes patients to skip their regular dental appointments and avoid treatment. If you are extremely nervous about coming into the dentist, there are ways which we can try and help you be as comfortable and calm as possible. Other patients which can benefit from sedation are special needs patients, very young children, patients who are claustrophobic in the dental chair or patients with disabilities.

There are two main forms of dental sedation: conscious and unconscious.

Conscious sedation includes inhaled sedation, intravenous (IV) sedation and oral sedation medication to reduce your awareness whilst you are still awake.

Unconscious sedation is when you are taken to hospital and put to sleep for the procedure under general anaesthetic.


2. What are the forms of sedation?

Oral sedation is prescribed by your dentist and requires you to take the medication an hour before the dental treatment is scheduled. The most common oral medication used is diazepam (Valium). Oral medication can make you feel drowsy and remains in your system for a few hours therefore requires someone to drive you home after your appointment.

Inhaled sedation which is comprised of oxygen and nitrous (laughing gas) can be given to you via a mask to be breathe it in. You are still conscious and aware of what is happening, but you are more relaxed. After the treatment is completed, the dentist will gradually decrease the nitrous and increase the oxygen supply until you are feeling like your normal self again, this takes around five minutes. Inhalation sedation does not affect your motor skills and you should be safe to drive home after your appointment.

IV sedation is similar to inhaled sedation, except it is administered via your veins, also known as intravenous sedation. This method of sedation does not put you to sleep but does cause you to become less aware of what is happening, and you might not remember the procedure afterwards, this is the “twilight zone”. IV sedation allows the dental procedure appointment time to be increased, meaning that multiple treatments can be completed in one session to minimise the number of appointments. IV sedation can remain in your system for up to 24 hours after the appointment, therefore it is essential that someone is available to drive you home.

General anaesthetic (GA) requires you to attend a hospital for a day visit, where you are put under general anaesthetic by an anaesthetist for the course of the treatment. GA for dental treatment should be considered the same as if you were going into hospital for an operation.


3. Can I have dental sedation?

If you are anxious and think that dental sedation may benefit your dental treatment, you can speak to your dentist about the options available.

Your dentist will assess your medical history and treatment required to determine if you are a suitable candidate for IV sedation or GA.

Not all patients can undergo IV sedation, your dentist will know what is best for you and your teeth.


If you would like more information about dental sedation, or if you would like to book an appointment with one of our dentists, why not give us a call on 01772 335207 or fill out the contact form and we will be in touch.

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