Sedation and General Anesthesia
At the most basic level a local anesthetic is used to prevent
pain. Applied directly to the treatment site, used on its own it
will not alter consciousness. Sedation in conjunction with
anesthetic medications is used to relieve pain or to relax and calm
a patient in preparation for a dental procedure.
This section provides information on
the use of sedation and general anesthesia in dentistry. You can also review a complete list of frequently asked questions related to sedation and general anesthesia.
What is Sedation and General Anesthesia?
Various levels of sedation may be used for dental procedures.
The level of sedation ranges from mild sedation to general
anesthesia (which affects the whole body to varying degrees).
- Minimal sedation: Generally, you feel
more relaxed but are able to walk, talk and breathe normally
(though this is dose dependent)-you are not asleep.
- Moderate sedation: You can still talk,
hear and respond but feel drowsy and sleepy, though you are not
asleep. You should be able to breathe on your own and you will
still require local anesthetic. Depending on the medications used,
you may or may not remember your procedure.
- Deep sedation: You are asleep and can
still breathe on your own but can't remember anything about the
procedure afterwards. Even with deep sedation, local anesthetic
needs to be administered because your pain reflexes, though
significantly dulled, are still intact.
- General anesthesia: The deepest level;
you are unconscious and cannot feel pain; your reflexes are absent
and you need assistance in breathing. You will feel as if you are
Do I require sedation or general anesthesia for my dental procedure/treatment?
Also, learn more about the use of sedation and general anesthesia in treating children.