Dental anesthesia involves the use of anesthetics during dental treatments. These treatments can include local anesthetics, sedation, or general anesthesia. General anesthesia is used in emergency cases, while sedation is often used for minor procedures. Local anesthetics are more effective than general anesthetics for pain reduction.
Injectable anesthetics are sometimes used to fill cavities, prepare teeth for crowns, or treat gum disease. Patients can also opt for mild or moderate sedation for procedures such as filling cavities. However, you should discuss these options with your doctor first to ensure that you’re not experiencing any uncomfortable side effects.
Local anesthesia is usually the most common type of anesthesia used in dental clinics. It works by injecting a substance into the gum line, numbing the area within minutes. Although you’ll be awake during the procedure, you’ll feel less pain than without the anesthetic. Depending on the procedure, a local anesthetic can last from a few minutes to several hours.
In recent years, mounting pressure has prompted the American Dental Association to reverse its stance on dental anesthesia. This regulatory pressure has raised awareness about the safety issues associated with anesthesia. It’s important for patients to know what kind of anesthesia will be used, and who will provide it. Also, they should know whether the anesthesiologist will also provide the surgical service. This is called informed consent.
Aside from general anesthesia, you can also choose a sedative to reduce your anxiety and pain. Sedatives can be inhaled (nitrous oxide) or given by pill or injection. These drugs are designed to put patients into a deep trance-like state where they’re unconscious and unresponsive to stimulation. Some sedatives, such as nitrous oxide, are safe and effective and should be considered if you’re nervous about dental treatments.
Dental anesthesia poses a special set of risks. Unfortunately, reliable data on adverse effects is rare. In the United States, a small number of patients have suffered serious complications from anesthesia. In one such study, 47 oral and maxillofacial surgeons reported cases of bronchospasm, laryngospasm, and phlebitis.
In addition to general anesthesia, many pediatric dentists have started using anesthetics for routine procedures. Recently, a dentist in Minnesota was sued for $2 million after a teen died while undergoing anesthesia during a procedure for his wisdom teeth. The lawsuit alleged that the dentist failed to monitor the teen after administering the anesthetic. This lawsuit led to the drafting of new guidelines for pediatric anesthesia.
A local anesthetic is injected into a specific part of the mouth. This blocks nerves that transmit pain. It is used in routine procedures like filling cavities and preparing teeth for crowns. It is also used to treat gum disease and pain caused by sores. The effects of local anesthetics last for several hours.
Dental anesthesiologists are dentists who specialize in administering anesthetics. They work in hospitals, dental offices, and surgical centers. They may also specialize in pediatric anesthesia.