Anesthesia is a means of pain and anxiety management used in a broad range of health procedures, including dentistry. Dental anesthesia encompasses a spectrum of treatments, each of which offers different benefits to the patient. 

Types of anesthesia include:

  • Local anesthetics – Small injections designed to numb the nerves in the gums and inside the teeth. Patients are awake and fully aware of their surroundings, but they feel little or no pain.
  • Sedation – Sedation can be used in combination with local anesthetics to help calm patients before and during office treatments. Sedation may b e in the form of a pre-visit anti-anxiety medication or nitrous oxide administered in the office.
  • General anesthesia – Administered via IV, this type of anesthesia causes patients to fall into a deep sleep. General anesthesia is reserved for highly invasive or long dental procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Anesthesia

What type of anesthesia will I need for my dental procedure?

The type of anesthesia you will get for your procedure depends on a lot of factors, including the nature of the procedure, the duration of the procedure, and your comfort level in general. A routine filling or a crown typically probably only requires a local anesthetic. However, if you have significant anxiety prior to or during a dental appointment, you may be offered a sedative to take in combination with a local anesthetic. If the procedure is more invasive, such as an impacted wisdom tooth extraction, you may be placed under IV sedation or general anesthesia.

What will I feel with anesthesia?

A local anesthetic will cause your mouth, teeth, and gums to become numb for several hours but you’ll still be awake and aware of what’s going on. You may feel pressure, but you should not feel pain with a local anesthetic. An oral or inhaled sedative, such as nitrous oxide, will cause you to feel groggy, relaxed, or even euphoric (happy), but these feelings wear off almost immediately at the end of your procedure when the dentist administers oxygen. If you are under general anesthesia or IV sedation, you will have no memory of your procedure and will not be conscious of any of it.

Are there any special instructions before or after anesthesia?

If you are having general anesthesia, you will need to avoid eating and drinking the night before and the morning of your procedure. You may also need to undergo some routine blood tests a few days or weeks before the procedure to make sure you are healthy enough for the sedation. After you wake up, you cannot drive yourself home, so be sure to bring a responsible driver with you to your appointment.

Surgery Instructions

Please choose one of the links below for information provided by Dr. Hinckley and Front Range Oral Surgery to prepare for and recover from your oral surgery procedure. If any questions or concerns arise, contact our office immediately so we can ensure your complete and speedy recovery!

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