As many as 80% of adults in the United States have some form of dental anxiety, ranging from relatively mild to severe. That means millions of people are worried about seeing their dentist — and for many, that means they’re almost certainly avoiding care that can keep their teeth and gums healthy.
The good news: Sedation options, including anesthesia, can help you relax throughout your dental care, keeping you comfortable so you can get the treatment you need for optimal oral health. But there’s another problem: Many patients are just as anxious about anesthesia as they are about seeing the dentist, which means they’re still likely to postpone important treatments.
At Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center in Oakland and San Francisco, California, Brandon Kang, DDS, and his team offer anesthesia services from licensed providers to keep our patients comfortable. If you have concerns about anesthesia, here’s what you need to know.
Anesthesia options and how they work
Anesthesia has been around for a long time. In fact, the first use of an anesthetic for a medical procedure dates back almost 200 years. Since then, the field has (obviously) come a long, long way.
Anesthesia is different from sedation that simply relaxes you, and it’s also different from local anesthetics that are injected into your gums and intended to numb a small area. Anesthesia works by temporarily blocking communication between your brain and the nerves that transmit pain signals.
These agents also make you very drowsy, so you can doze or fall into a deeper sleep during your procedure. Most agents also cause temporary amnesia, which means you won’t have any memory of your procedure either.
Dr. Kang offers intravenous anesthesia, as well as anesthesia that you inhale. As a licensed general anesthetist, Dr. Kang is able to provide IV sedation himself. For inhaled anesthesia or for more complex or lengthier procedures, a medical anesthesiologist will administer your anesthesia.
In either case, you’ll be closely monitored throughout your treatment to make sure you stay safe and comfortable.
What to expect before, during, and after anesthesia
Prior to your appointment, a member of our team discusses any steps you need to take in preparation for your procedure. This includes gathering information about:
- Medication you’re taking
- Medical history
- Past experiences with anesthesia
Your answers to these questions help Dr. Kang prescribe the best type of anesthesia and keep you safe during your procedure.
Anesthesia can make some people feel nauseous, so on your procedure day, you’ll need to stop eating six hours before your appointment time to make sure your stomach is empty. You’ll also need to avoid beverages.
Just before your procedure, you’re hooked to monitors that measure your heart rate and breathing. For IV anesthesia, the IV needle is placed in your arm. Once the medicine is administered, most patients fall asleep within just a couple of minutes. Your vital signs are continuously monitored while you sleep.
After your procedure is over, you’re monitored for a short period before being discharged. You must have someone with you to drive you home. Our team gives you instructions regarding care of your surgical site, as well. You can expect to be drowsy for several hours, so plan to nap once you get home.
Don’t let anxiety keep you from getting important care
Dr. Kang treats dental anxiety seriously, offering every patient a unique solution based on your needs and concerns. If you have questions about anesthesia or if you suffer from dental anxiety, book an appointment online or over the phone at the Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center office most convenient to you today and learn how we can help.