Anesthesia and Oral Surgery

Anesthesia is an important part of every oral surgery procedure. Thankfully we have a wide spectrum of choices available to us today. We can block pain, calm your nerves, and even give you a restful sleep if you’d like while we work through your procedure.

Our oral surgeons are trained and qualified in all types of anesthesia, from local, to general, and everything in between. All of our doctors have spent at least four years in residency in a hospital learning how to evaluate, deliver, and monitor patients under anesthesia.

Anesthesia: A Spectrum of Options

Local Anesthetic

Local anesthetics such as “lidocaine” are used in nearly all oral surgery procedures. These medicines are administered directly to the surgical site and numb the tissue so you feel no pain. For some minor procedures, such as soft tissue and simple extractions, a local anesthetic is all we need (although you may choose additional methods) to get the job done.

Photo of local anesthesia bottle and needle

Oral Sedatives

For some people the use of an oral sedative about an hour before the procedure can help with anxiety. While oral sedatives aren’t enough on their own to eliminate pain they do provide patients with a sense of calm prior to the procedure. Local anesthesia is then used to numb the surgical site.

Photo of dental patient about to take oral sedation pill

Nitrous Oxide (“Laughing Gas”)

Commonly known as “laughing gas”, this treatment involves a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen administered through a breathing mask. You are conscious, but relaxed, and may not remember everything that happens during the procedure. Nitrous oxide provides some pain-relief, but is not comprehensive – it is typically used in conjunction with local anesthesia for total pain control.

Photo of dental patient with mask on her face receiving nitrous oxide

IV Sedation (“Twilight Sedation”)

This type of sedation is very comfortable and does not involve a lengthy recovery phase like general anesthesia. With “twilight sedation” you are awake (or drifting in and out of sleep) for the procedure, but are comfortable, calm, and may have no memory of the surgery when you “wake up”. This type of sedation is administered through an IV in our office and can be reversed at any time with an antidote – it is a completely safe and very effective way to perform procedures on patients who have anxiety about surgery. This is suitable for most oral surgery procedures.

Photo of IV bag

General Anesthesia

  • In-Office General Anesthesia: For patients who aren’t at risk of needing ventilators and don’t necessarily need complete muscle relaxation, we can perform general anesthesia in our office to eliminate pain and anxiety. General anesthesia has a longer recovery period than “twilight sedation”, requiring several hours for it to wear off. This is the preferred choice for some conditions that don’t allow for adequate anesthesia otherwise.
  • Hospital General Anesthesia: There are some procedures, such as jaw surgery, and some patients (those with serious health conditions) who must have anesthesia administered in a hospital for safety reasons.
Photo of dental patient resting in dental chair

A Summary of your Options

Anesthesia Type Asleep or Awake  Need a Ride Home? Fasting Required?
Local Anesthesia Awake No No
Oral Sedatives Awake but Relaxed Yes No
Nitrous Oxide Awake but Relaxed No No
IV “Twilight” Sedation Conscious, but Little Memory Yes Yes
General Anesthesia Asleep Yes Yes

Safety and Anesthesia

Your safety is our number one priority. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have an excellent safety record in anesthesia. The training for anesthesia during oral surgery residency is very extensive, more so than for any other health specialist, with the exception of anesthesiologists.

Anesthesia: What to Expect

  • Fast: No food or drinks 6 hours prior to your procedure if you are having IV (“twilight”) sedation or general anesthesia.
  • Bring a Buddy: You will need a responsible adult to accompany you to your appointment and drive you home following IV or general sedation, or if you are taking oral sedatives.
  • Comfort and Care: We will make you comfortable before, during, and after your procedure using the discussed anesthesia plan.
  • Visit our Before Anesthesia page for complete instructions.

If you have any concerns about an upcoming procedure please give us a call. We are here to answer any questions you may have to ensure the best experience possible.