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All About Dental Anesthesia

The Facts about General Anesthesia

At Dental Care Asleep, we are specialize in administration of general anesthesia to ensure our patients experience a stress-free and comfortable dental visit. For those who are unfamiliar with what general anesthesia is, or if you are a bit nervous about the idea of being asleep, this article aims to explain how it works, the science behind it, and how it can the solution to your fear and anxiety about having your dental work performed.

The Stages of Anesthesia


The process begins with the induction phase, where the anesthetic agents are administered. This is typically done via inhalation (mask) or intravenously (through an i.v. catheter). The i.v. route is common because it works quickly, usually within seconds. In those who are afraid of having an i.v. placed including many children, breathing through a mask is the next most common method. The patient rapidly transitions from an awake state to unconsciousness


Once unconscious, anesthesia must be maintained throughout the procedure. This is achieved by continuously delivering anesthetic gases or intravenous medications. The dosage is carefully controlled to ensure the patient remains unconscious and pain-free.


Throughout the procedure, the patient’s vital signs (such as heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and respiration) are closely monitored. This monitoring ensures that the anesthesia is working effectively and allows the Dentist-Anesthesiologist and team to make any necessary adjustments.


After the procedure is complete, the delivery of anesthetic agents is stopped. The patient gradually regains consciousness as the effects of the drugs wear off. The recovery period varies depending on the individual themselves, as well as factors such as the duration of the anesthetic. Patients are fully monitored during recovery by Anesthesia nurses to ensure a smooth and safe discharge.

The Components of General Anesthesia

Anesthetic Agents

These are drugs that induce and maintain unconsciousness. Common agents include dexmedetomidine, propofol, sevoflurane for example.


These drugs provide pain relief. Opioids like fentanyl or remi-fentanyl are commonly used. Dentist-Anesthesiologists are fully qualified to safely administer these medications in conjunction with others as part of a balanced anesthetic.

These drugs help relax the muscles, which is particularly important for procedures involving the throat or airway. Examples include rocuronium and vecuronium.

Antianxiety Medications

Drugs such as benzodiazepines (e.g., midazolam) are often used to reduce preoperative anxiety.

Supportive Medications

Medications can be given to a patient during the anesthesia to help support their individual medical conditions or needs. These could include insulin, or blood pressure medications, as well as anti-nausea (anti-emetics) or even medications to help reduce salivary secretions. Your dentist-anesthesiologists is an expert in determining which medications and when they may of benefit and will use them as they see fit to optimize your experience.

How General Anesthesia Affects the Body

General anesthesia works by interrupting nerve signals in the brain and body. Here’s a closer look at the physiological effects:


Anesthetic agents modify the overall activity of the brain, including centres such as the reticular activating system, which controls wakefulness and consciousness. By suppressing this system, the brain is unable to process sensations, leading to unconsciousness. Recent scientific studies have demonstrated that there are no long term effects on memory of function or learning after having general anesthesia.

Pain Perception

Analgesic components block the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Even though the body may still experience stimuli, the brain does not perceive them as pain as the patient is completely asleep.

Muscle Relaxation

General anesthetics such as propofol produce mild muscle relaxation. There is relaxation in the muscles that open the jaw, so that you do not have to "hold your jaw open" and there is no fatigue or tiredness in the jaw muscles. While working, we simply rest your mouth open in its normal range in order to complete your dental work


General anesthesia and unconsciousness produces amnesia, meaning you don't remember the procedure while you were asleep. For patients with dental anxiety and phobia, it prevents the formation of any traumatic memories or experiences.

Preparing for General Anesthesia

Before undergoing general anesthesia, patients will have a preoperative consultation to discuss their medical history, current medications, allow the Dentist-Anesthesiologist to perform an airway and physical examination, and have any questions they may have answered. It’s important for patients to clearly understand and follow preoperative instructions, such as fasting, to ensure the procedure goes smoothly.

Recovery from General Anesthesia

Postoperative care involves monitoring the patient as they wake up from the anesthesia. It’s normal to feel tired or groggy initially. Patients must not drive a vehicle, are advised to rest, and avoid any strenuous activities for the remainder of the day. Written follow-up instructions will be provided to ensure proper home care.

Book a Consultation

General anesthesia is a powerful tool in modern dentistry, allowing patients to receive necessary dental care without the stress and pain associated with traditional procedures. At Dental Care Asleep, we are committed to providing a safe and comfortable environment for our patients, ensuring they receive the highest standard of care. By understanding how general anesthesia works and its benefits, patients can feel more confident and less anxious about their dental treatments. Our specialized approach ensures that every patient, whether anxious, young, or in need of extensive dental work, can experience a pain-free and trauma-free dental visit.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact Dental Care Asleep. We are here to answer any questions and provide the care and reassurance you need for a comfortable dental experience.


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