Anaesthesia FAQs

The information on this page is intended as a general guide only and may not apply to specific individual cases. It is subject to change without notice.

How can anaesthetics help me with my fear of dental procedures?

Local anaesthetics are drugs that temporarily stop any sensations in the area they are injected into. Once an area is numbed, you won’t feel anything until the numbing agent wears off.

Inhalation anaesthesia (applied through “laughing” gas) and twilight sedation (applied through an intravenous drip) create a sense of detachment from the activities around you and in your mouth. You don’t go to sleep. But you also don’t care about or remember what happened.

General anaesthesia knocks you out completely. It is like falling asleep. It is done in a surgical suite with a full theatre team.

What is local anaesthesia?

Local anaesthesia is the injection of numbing agents directly to the site of the procedure.

The level of discomfort is usually very minor. It can vary depending on the patient and the location of the injection.

We always apply a topical swab first used to numb the surface of the area to make injections even more comfortable.

When is local anaesthesia used?

Local anaesthesia is used for almost all reparative, restoration and surgical procedures such as fillings, crowns, extractions and implants.

Are there side effects with local anaesthesia?

The numbing effect of local anaesthesia typically dissipates within a couple of hours. Long-term side effects are extremely rare.

What is gas (inhalation) sedation?

If you only have a mild apprehension of needles or dental procedures, a milder alternative to twilight sedation could be inhalation sedation. This is achieved by breathing in nitrous oxide gas (laughing gas) during the procedure.

The gas is colourless, odourless and generally safe. It induces a mild state of euphoria, warm sensation, and wellbeing.

Are there any side effects with using inhalation sedation?

No. There are no side effects with the use of inhalation sedation when administered properly.

The euphoria effect of inhalation sedation wears off pretty much immediately after the gas supply is turned off. You will be able to drive and function normally within 5-10 minutes of coming off the gas.

What is twilight (IV) sedation?

Twilight sedation is also called sleep dentistry or IV sedation.

Twilight sedation (also called sleep dentistry or IV sedation) uses an intravenously delivered sedative to induce a deeply relaxed, but still conscious, state.

Oximeter

Source: Rama via Wikimedia Commons. CeCILL free software license.

A pulse oximeter (a small sensor) will be clipped to either your earlobe or finger to monitor your heart rate and blood oxygen level.

Normal local anaesthetic will still be administered to block the pain.

Is twilight sedation safe?

Although twilight sedation is generally very safe, there is always an element of risk with any medical procedure. This is why we always have a fully-qualified anaesthetist administer the IV drugs and monitor your wellbeing throughout the entire procedure. You are never left alone.

There are some special arrangements you need to take into account – such as organising a family member or friend to take you home after the procedure. See the Twilight Sedation Instructions.

How do I prepare for twilight sedation?

See Twilight Sedation Instructions

Is twilight sedation the same as general anaesthesia?

No. Twilight sedation is not the same as general anaesthesia.

Although twilight sedation is also called sleep sedation or sleep dentistry, you are not actually put to sleep like general anaesthesia. Twilight sedation is not as risky as general anaesthesia. You will be able to respond to requests made by the dentist.

Do I go to sleep with inhalation sedation?

No. Like twilight sedation, you remain fully conscious.

You can still respond to the dentist’s requests, but are just not bothered by what is going on.

Are there side effects with twilight sedation?

Memory loss can accompany sedation dentistry as a (positive!) side effect of the sedation drugs. Any memory loss is only confined to the period of the sedation process. You may not remember the procedure.

There may also be a sense of disorientation for a while after the procedure. This is normal.

You do need to arrange for a family member or friend to accompany you home after a sedation dentistry appointment. You will not be able to drive or operate machinery for at least 24 hours. See the Twilight Sedation Instructions to prepare yourself for a sedation dentistry appointment.

When is twilight sedation used?

Twilight sedation is perfect for patients who have severe phobias about needles and dental procedures. IV sedation not only removes your anxiety and fear, but also enables the procedure to proceed much faster.

For complex procedures like oral surgery and dental implants, we usually recommend sedation dentistry as a standard part of the procedure.

Do I need to engage an anaesthetist?

To maximise your safety, we always use an anaesthetist to administer twilight sedation and monitor your wellbeing throughout the procedure.

Although twilight sedation carries less risk than general anaesthesia, it is not 100% risk-free. Hence the dentist should focus on the procedure while the anaesthetist looks after your sedation.

We have several qualified and experienced anaesthetists we use.

How do I set up an appointment with a twilight sedation anaesthetist?

If you think you will benefit from twilight sedation, we can help you understand the benefits and risks.

Appointments with our anaesthetists are subject to their respective availability. Your chosen anaesthetist will usually require a pre-appointment consultation with you. This is normally done via a phone call.