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Today, we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of IV sedation vs general anaesthesia, and when it is appropriate to use each. For many people, the prospect of visiting the dentist is so debilitating that they delay and avoid important procedures. Of course, over time this means that a small problem can exacerbate into a much bigger problem, demanding more complex or lengthier treatment and resulting in further trauma for the patient. At Piazza Dental, we are proud to offer our patients the coping mechanisms they need to get quality dental care.

Why Do We Need Dental Sedation?

Both intravenous sedation and general anaesthetic are types of sedation that are typically used for patients who are afraid of visiting the dentist. This fear can stem from a fear of needles, a sensitive gag reflex or the fact you need a very long procedure performed. Sedation is often used for treating children because they cannot sit still or hold their mouths open for long periods of time. Today we will compare the intravenous administration of sedatives with the administration of general anaesthetic.

Understanding IV Sedation

With IV sedation, the sedative medications are fed straight into your bloodstream with an intravenous tube. The sedatives you are given will not render you unconscious, rather they will relax your muscles and mental anxiety. You might feel a little drowsy but the general idea is to relax you enough that your dental practitioner can carry out your procedure.

What Are The Benefits Of Intravenous Sedation?

Because it is administered into the bloodstream intravenous sedation gets to work quickly. This means your procedure does not need to be delayed unnecessarily. With intravenous sedation, your dentist is in full control over the procedure and can adjust your dosage at any given time. One of the major benefits of intravenous sedation is the fact that you can get to a higher level of sedation than with oral or inhaled sedatives. In as much as it gets to work quickly, it also wears off relatively quickly, so you will be able to go home afterwards. However, you will need someone to drive you home. Some memory loss can be expected after the event. While you will be awake and be able to respond to external stimuli, you may find that you do not remember part or all of the procedure. This can be a major benefit if a previous dental trauma has caused you anxiety about having treatment. By using IV sedation, you can avoid the side effects and risks associated with general anaesthesia.

Is IV Sedation Safe?

IV sedation is relatively safe and has a predictable outcome, but if you are obese, pregnant, or experiencing CNS depression, your dentist will recommend an alternative.

Understanding General Anaesthetic

With general anaesthetic, you are unconscious for your procedure. GA can only be administered in a hospital environment by an anaesthesiologist. Typically, anaesthetic is only used when a patient needs a lengthy or very complex procedure that necessitates you being unconscious. Sedatives are given to you intravenously, and you will be given anaesthetic gas to inhale and to stop you from moving around during the procedure. If you are unconscious your eyes are shut, you do not see or hear anything of the procedure, and you will not remember anything about it afterwards. You will not wake up until the medication has worn off, and you will be kept n the hospital for observation for probably at least 24 hours after.

What Are The Benefits Of General Anaesthetic?

General anaesthetic is really used for very complex procedures and, because of the popularity of IV sedation, is not used as extensively. There are some circumstances where it is beneficial, and this happens when the patient has a very high tolerance for the medication used in intravenous sedation. Sometimes children need to have general anaesthetic to enable the dental team to perform a procedure.

How Safe Is Anaesthetic?

Using anaesthetic does carry some risks, and you would need to tick all the right boxes to be given it. If you are a smoker, have diabetes, or have a history of seizures, your dentist will recommend an alternative. Still have questions about the difference between sedation and general anaesthesia? Contact our practice to speak to a professional: (02) 9476 1211.