General Anesthesia for Dental Care

Dental treatment under general anesthetic

Horace Wells, an American dentist, first used general anesthesia on one of his patients during a tooth extraction. Much has changed in anesthesiology from the time of Dr. Wells to the present day. Today, anesthesiology is a field that advances daily with new scientific discoveries and medical technologies.

General anesthesia is often used in dentistry, especially for dental procedures such as dental extractions or oral or maxillofacial surgeries. It can only be performed by properly trained anesthesiologists who carefully analyze the patient’s medical condition and history and are familiar with the administration techniques and types of anesthetics available.

Next, it will be addressed why and how general anesthesia is used in dentistry.

What is general anesthesia?

There are several types of sedation in dentistry. The deepest is general anesthesia. After its administration, the whole body is anesthetized, and the patient temporarily loses consciousness, which facilitates the dentist’s work and allows various dental treatments or surgeries to be performed. In addition, anesthetics block nerve impulses, preventing the sensation of pain throughout the body. The state of unconsciousness generated by general anesthesia is reversible. After finishing the dental procedure, the cells gradually excrete the administered substances, and the patient gradually regains consciousness.

When is general anesthesia used in dentistry?

General anesthesia may be recommended for patients who:

  • require complex and extensive oral surgery
  • have neurological or psychiatric disorders
  • have allergies to local anesthetics
  • are taking anticoagulants
  • experience high anxiety, low pain tolerance, or phobias.

What is a Pre-anesthesia evaluation?

A pre-anesthetic evaluation is a thorough patient assessment before a dental procedure requiring anesthesia. It allows estimating risk and developing an anesthesia plan adapted to the patient’s condition. The anesthesiologist must perform a complete anamnesis of the patient and a physical examination. In some cases, complementary laboratory tests are required. It is an important step to evaluate the patient, be aware of the risks, and know precisely which anesthetic procedure is the best for each case.

What medications are used and how are they administered?

General anesthetics induce a state of unconsciousness and maintain it for a period of time. The most common forms of administration are via intravenous injection (IV) or gas inhalation.

General Anesthesia Procedure

  • Anesthetic premedication
  • Some patients may require additional medications before general anesthesia to reduce anxiety and other complications.
  • General anesthesia induction
  • General anesthesia is characterized by a reversible loss of consciousness, sensory perceptions, pain, and emotions such as fear or anxiety. The anesthesiologist administers anesthetics intravenously or by inhalation to induce this state. The patient falls asleep after a few minutes and the anesthesiologist performs a tracheal incubation for oxygen supply.
  • General anesthesia maintenance
  • Once the expected anesthesia phase is reached, the anesthesiologist must continuously monitor the patient’s vital signs, maintain anesthesia by adjusting or administering medications, and check the patient’s unconsciousness.
  • Waking up after general anesthesia
  • Once the dental intervention is finished and the administration of anesthetics is suspended, the patient begins the process of awakening and gradually recovers consciousness and senses. The patient must be in the company of a family member or friend since they will be sleepy and unable to drive home.

General anesthesia in our dental practice

We work with trained and experienced anesthesiologists. Together with the anesthesia nurses, they prepare and perform the anesthesia and care for our patients during the dental procedure and recovery phase.

The anesthesiologist temporarily “switches off” the patient’s consciousness during dental treatment. Once completed, the anesthesiologist stops administering the anesthesia-inducing medications. The deep sleep state rapidly diminishes, and consciousness and senses return.

If you suffer from anxiety, general anesthesia may be an option. Talk to us; we will be glad to help you.
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