August 30, 2023

Dental Anaesthesia: What Types Are Used and When

Fear of visiting the dentist affects about one in every seven Australians. For many people, the source of their anxiety is the expectation of pain. While some discomfort is to be expected with any dental procedure and its recovery period, most of the time, the pain is simply not as severe as patients imagine it to be. For a dentist, keeping you relaxed and comfortable is part of the job. One of the ways to do that is through the appropriate use of well-chosen dental anaesthesia.

Anaesthesia for dental surgery takes different forms, from the local anaesthesia applied when you need a simple filling to stronger options that can put you in a sleep-like state. Sleep dentistry (also called ‘sedation dentistry’) is when a dental professional administer a sedative to relax you, often leading you to fall into a ‘twilight sleep’ in which you’re conscious but comfortable and free from pain. Although the name is somewhat misleading (unless you’re under general anaesthesia, you’re still awake), sleep dentistry can help people with dental fear, trauma, or other complicated requirements to get through their treatments more easily.

There are four main types of dental anaesthesia, and each is used for different reasons. Some dental anaesthesia may have certain side effects on particular people, while others won’t experience any negative effects at all. 

If you have an appointment for All-on-4® surgery coming up with Next Smile Australia, there’s no need to feel anxious. Our team of highly skilled dental surgeons and other professionals are trained to prioritise your comfort and physical and emotional well-being through every stage of your All-on-4® process. This includes administering the right anaesthesia for your dental surgery.

Here’s our brief overview of the different types of dental anaesthesia that you can encounter while seeking dental treatment.

Local Anaesthesia

Used for smaller and less invasive procedures such as fillings, local anaesthetic is the most common type of dental anaesthesia. It has a “numbing” effect on the part of the tooth or gums your dentist is working on. Available in a range of forms like gels, creams, sprays and injections, it deadens nerve endings, so the most that you feel during your treatment is dull pressure.

Local anaesthetic has a fast recovery time but takes a while to wear off. Your lips and tongue may still be numb for up to five hours afterwards, and hot foods and drinks can cause burns. Depending on their pre-existing conditions, some patients can experience rapid heart rates after local anaesthesia, but this is not common.  

General Anaesthesia

General anaesthesia is the use of a combination of intravenous medicines and inhaled gases to put you in a state of peaceful sleep so that you don’t know the surgery is being carried out and you only wake up once it’s done. It’s often thought to be the same thing as sleep dentistry, although there are differences between the two; patients aren’t usually awake during sleep dentistry, for example, but can still communicate with the dentist.

While general anaesthesia is less common than local, it’s still one of the most common types of dental anaesthesia and incredibly useful for long and complicated procedures. Used for major procedures like full-mouth dental restoration, it involves medication administered through an IV or mask and a registered anaesthetist who monitors your vital signs. This type of dental anaesthesia requires somebody to drive you to and from your appointment as the anaesthetic takes its time to wear off. You should avoid driving, riding a bicycle or operating any other vehicle for at least 24 hours after your treatment.

This form of anaesthesia for dental surgery also comes with some risk of side effects, particularly for older adults and those with medical conditions, such as allergic reactions.  Most of the time, it’s an extremely safe and useful form of dental anaesthesia for surgeries such as All-on-4®, which require full-scale dental reconstruction. It’s also the most common anaesthesia for dental surgery used by Next Smile Australia.

Your Next Smile Australia dental surgeon will take your medical and dental history into account when assessing whether or not it’s right for you.
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Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous oxide is also known as “laughing gas” due to the temporary sense of euphoria it induces in some patients. Despite its nickname, nitrous oxide won’t usually make you laugh. Instead, it slows down your nervous system to reduce your anxiety and pain. Administered through a mask that fits over your nose, its other effects include making you feel tingly and light-headed.

Occasional side effects such as shivering or headaches can occur if the levels of nitrous oxide are too high or too much is inhaled at once. But for younger patients, patients who don’t respond well to other types of dental anaesthesia and patients with extremely high levels of fear or anxiety, nitrous oxide sedation is one of the more effective types of dental anaesthesia available.

IV Sedation

IV sedation is sleep dentistry that’s milder than a full anaesthetic. During general anaesthesia, you are completely conscious, while with IV sedation, you can stay awake throughout the procedure and follow instructions in a relaxed state. This means when the operation is over, you’ll feel refreshed, with little to no memory of your treatment.

As the name suggests, IV sedation is given via an intravenous (IV) drip in your arm. When it comes to major dental surgeries like dental implants or wisdom tooth removal, IV sedation is one of the most common types of dental anaesthesia.

Book a Consultation at Next Smile Australia

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If you’ve been living with missing or badly damaged teeth, All-on-4® can give you a fresh start with a new smile in as little as 24 hours. An advanced form of dental restoration that takes a revolutionary approach to the concept of dental implants. All-on-4® provides you with an entire bridge of new teeth supported by just four implants: two at the front and two at the back in the upper or lower jawbone.

A procedure with a 98% success rate, All-on-4® allows you to do away with difficult dentures and provides you with a faster recovery than traditional dental implants. When you commit to All-on-4® treatment with Next Smile Australia, you receive two sets of teeth constructed in-house by our technicians from the highest quality of materials created by Nobel Biocare. You receive your first set, a provisional bridge to wear for three to six months,  often as soon as you wake up from dental implant surgery and never more than 24 hours afterward. Once your dental implants have had the chance to fuse with your jawbone in a process known as osseointegration, you’ll be ready for the fitting of your ‘final bridge’, or final set of teeth. The entire process has a shorter recovery time than traditional dental implants, with no painful and slow healing procedures like dental bone grafting required.

Your All-on-4® treatment timeline starts with a personal consultation in which we take your medical and dental history into account and ends with treatment at one of our industry-leading Super Clinics followed by aftercare. Using the latest advancements in technology and the highest level of treatment quality, we’ll make your journey to a new smile as easy and painless as possible, and we’re not just talking about the anaesthetic.

To book an information session or arrange for a personal consultation, get in touch with the Next Smile Australia team.