Dental Phobias: Sedation or General Anaesthesia?

Article by Dr Raha Sepehrara

A patient with dental phobias is terrified of the idea of going ahead with a dental treatment and they usually ask for a complete knock out to not feel a thing! Or at least to be asleep when the dentist will be performing dental tasks on them. Luckily, dentistry has made gigantic leaps over the last years and has provided us with valuable tools and techniques to deal with every issue!

So, what is the best way to make you feel relaxed and at ease when in the dentist’s practice?

At the Dental Suite, we use sedation instead of general anaesthesia. Yes, many of you may confuse those two and think it is the same thing, but it’s not.

Sedation and General Anaesthesia: Which is Safer?

When we sedate our patients, we don’t fully put them to sleep, rather than allow them to enter a calm state of mind, where they don’t feel upset or alarmed. General anaesthesia, on the other hand, is the state of complete unconsciousness. And, “What’s wrong with that?” you may wonder. You are right to wonder.

Over the course of the 1970s and up to the early 1990s, general dental practices used general anaesthesia. There were increasing concerns at the time over the safety level related to dental anaesthesia. Simple procedures ended up tragically, especially among healthy children. The reasons were believed to be multi-factorial and included the fact that those responsible for administering anaesthesia were doing so under conditions with resuscitation equipment and substantial monitoring assistance.

However, after The Poswillo Report in 1990, when working party leader Professor David Poswillo made key recommendations for the safe provision of general anaesthesia, things have changed drastically. The bottom line of these recommendations was to avoid general anaesthesia where possible. Ever since, the use of general anaesthesia in general practice has been completely abolished, simply because it was a risky business.

Why don’t we want to Administer General Anaesthesia?

We have to be honest and truthful to you and ourselves. We are doctors and have spent many years studying human anatomy, among a myriad of other subjects to get our licence. However, we are not medically trained to administer general anaesthesia to the point our anaesthetist colleagues that work in hospitals are. Think that they have been trained long and hard to be able to do that while we have been training to become dentists!

Let’s face it…general anaesthesia is not to be taken lightly. So, if we can avoid it, we will avoid it.

What’s the Next Best Thing to General Anaesthesia?

At The Dental Suite, we use conscious sedation. It is a technique where your dentist administers a solution that calms you and allows you to have a dental treatment. When sedated, you are able to talk and respond to your dentist, which reinforces what we have said numerous times:

In our practice, YOU are always in control.

During sedation, you are conscious; hence have your protective reflexes still functioning, which makes conscious sedation a much safer technique compared to general anaesthesia.

What Happens in Conscious Sedation?

In layman terms? We use a medicine that helps you completely relax. You become drowsy (some people have a good nap, some snore!), very forgetful (so you don’t remember what happened after the procedure is finished), BUT you still retain your own breathing and reflexes.

The result?

Virtually all the advantages of a general anaesthesia without the risky part! You can go home the same day (of course with an escort who will look after you for 24 hours) and feel good that you got your treatment done without having to be knocked out!

At the Dental Suite, YOU are a priority, as you should be. If you don’t feel good and comfortable with something, we will discuss your options and find the best solution to satisfy your requirements. If we can guarantee something, it is that you won’t walk out of our door disappointed!

Contact us NOW, book your FIRST CONSULTATION FOR FREE, and take a seat at a highly pleasing journey that will get you a wonderful smile and a worry-free dental experience!



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