Dental surgery or even routine dental procedures can be painful for those receiving the treatment. It is not uncommon for those receiving dental care will experience a form of anxiety regarding the procedure, even if it is a small procedure that is regularly performed. Because of this, dentists use various forms of anesthesia in their work to make sure that the patient remains calm and pain free throughout the treatment process.
Local anesthesia is used to numb a specific area in the patients’ mouth prior to beginning a treatment or procedure. Local anesthesia is the most commonly used form of dental anesthesia and usually causes the patient little to no side effects other than the numbing sensation. There are a variety of types of local anesthesia that dentists may use in different procedures.
•Nerve Block – A nerve block blocks the reception of pain in a specific area of the mouth.
•Infiltration- Infiltration numbs a small area, usually injected underneath the root of the tooth being worked on.
•Intraosseous- This procedure involves injecting a numbing agent directly into the bone structure of the tooth and jaw.
Local anesthesia is not the only type of anesthesia used in dental practice. Topical anesthetics such as benzocaine are commonly used to numb areas of the tooth or gum before injections or smaller procedures. In cases of anxiety and commonly in children, Nitrous Oxide may be administered via a mask. It helps to calm the patient and often causes a sensation of euphoria. This makes procedures much for tolerable for some patients who experience dental anxiety. In cases of dental surgery or other serious or invasive procedures, a dentist may decide to use general anesthesia. This puts the patient to sleep, leaving them unconscious and unaware of the environment around them. Some common general anesthesia medications are ketamine, fentanyl, and propofol, although the dentist will determine which drug best suits the situation. Commonly, when a patient is under general anesthesia they will also receive a pain medication via IV to help control pain while the patient is asleep. Anti-inflammatory drugs are also commonly administered via IV.