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. There are several types of anesthesia, including:
- 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 be 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.