Anesthesia Vs Sedation: What is the Difference between General and Local Anesthetia
The thought of sitting in the dentist’s chair may not be everyone's favorite pastime. Dental phobia is one of the common fears experienced by people. Unfortunately, it causes avoidance and hampers their dental health. Living with the fear of dental treatment, a person avoids dental visits. Any dental illness that is left untreated allows the problems to escalate over time causing serious health issues. This is the reason why anesthesia or sedation options can come in handy for the dentists to calm down patients during treatment.
What is anesthesia?
Anesthesia is a way to control pain during oral surgery or a dental procedure by using a medicine called anesthetics. It can help control your breathing, blood pressure, blood flow, heart rate and rhythm.
Anesthesia may be used to:
- Relax you
- Block pain
- Make you sleepy or forgetful
- Make you unconscious for your surgery
There are different levels of sedation to calm and relax patients prior to and during their dental care. It works great for patients who are nervous about dental treatment and/or are afraid of needles, or even patients with medical conditions that make reclining in the dental chair uncomfortable (like a bad back).
One form of light sedation is Nitrous-Oxide (N2O), commonly known as ‘laughing gas’ that is inhaled through a soft nose mask (similar to the oxygen masks worn by jet pilots!). You are relaxed and comfortable during your dental treatment and it provides relief from slight anxiety. Many patients choose to use Nitrous-Oxide for the freezing portion of the appointment and are fine without sedation for the rest of their appointment! Nitrous-Oxide is reversed after the appointment by delivering higher oxygen content through the mask, so patients are able to return to work and drive themselves home thereafter.
Another option is oral sedation, which comes in many forms. One form requires you come one hour before your appointment and receive the medication (usually a pill or liquid) to provide relaxation and increased comfort in the dental chair. Once the medication digests and takes effect, the dental work is done. Meanwhile, you’re relaxed as you may feel sleepy. You might even take a nap or watch TV while your dental work is being done.
What's the difference between Local and General Anesthesia?
- Local anesthesia suppresses pain in desired part of the body
- Local anesthesia can be administered by the doctor without the help of an anesthesiologist
- Low risk involvement
- General Anesthesia involves suppressing pain in the whole body
- An anesthesiologist must be present to administer anesthesia
- There is a high risk involved if general anesthesia is not administered correctly
If you experience fear for any dental treatment, we invite you to come in and talk to Dr. Iven Gonzalez. We administer local anesthesia to our patients who have dental phobia related issues. We are committed to make sure that your experience with us is relaxed and comfortable.