Sedation & Anaesthetic in Dental Implants

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Many people are understandably petrified of the dentist’s and will want to avoid potentially painful treatments at all costs. Generally a dental implant is performed until local anaesthetic which means that you are conscious but the area that is being operated on is completely numb. In most cases this is sufficient to avoid your suffering any distress.

However, if you are undergoing a more extensive treatment which involves several implants being placed, or which involved bone grafting, you may be given general anaesthesia. This will mean that you are completely unconscious and unable to feel any pain. General anaesthesia can only be performed in a hospital.

Some people have serious phobias attached to going to the dentist. You may be very afraid about the idea of having a local anaesthetic injected into your gums or you may simply feel extremely nervous. In these cases you will probably be given a sedative. This means that you will be largely conscious but completely relaxed.

If you do suffer from nerves at the dentist, make sure you discuss it with your consultant before your treatment. They will then be able to recommend the best form of pain relief for you.  It is important that you are completely comfortable during the treatment as fear can seriously hamper your procedure resulting in your dentist being unable to continue. Also, you deserve to have the most comfortable treatment possible, do not be embarrassed to discuss your sedative and anaesthetic options with your dentist, fear of dentists and dental procedures is very common and completely understandable.

If you are using sedatives or anaesthetics you may be asked to avoid eating or drinking for a number of hours prior to treatment. Your dentist will give you more specific instructions before your procedure. You may also need to arrange for a friend to take you home as you may be unfit to drive after sedation.


There are a number of sedative options. Sedatives do not directly control pain and are therefore generally used in conjunction with a local anaesthetic. Their main roll is to keep you calm and relaxed during treatment. Though they do not stop you feeling pain, they will make you less aware of what is going on. They may make you feel ‘out of it’ or ‘spaced out’.

The first option is relative analgesia. This works by placing a small make over your nose. This mask supplies a combination of laughing gas (also known as nitrous oxide) and oxygen. This is what you will inhale throughout your procedure. It will make you less aware of what is going on around you and make you less conscious of any discomfort you may feel.

Another form of sedation is oral sedation. This is given as a medication; a tablet or a liquid. A very common drug used in these cases is Temazepam which is mostly used to help people who have trouble sleeping. It will probably make you feel very tired and extremely relaxed. This will ensure you are comfortable and much less anxious about your surgery.

The final common form of sedation is conscious sedation. This is slightly more invasive than the other two kinds as it is injected straight into your blood stream. Conscious sedation is mostly only used for treatments which involve a lot of work, multiple dental implants for example. It is considered to be preferable to general anaesthetic because it can be used outside of a hospital, has fewer risks and allows your dentist to give you simple instructions during the treatment.

The sedative works by being injected in carefully monitored amounts into a vein, usually in your arm or wrist. This keeps you at a constant level of sedation until the procedure has been completed. You will not be completely asleep and will be able to respond to very basic instructions but you will have no awareness to the treatment which is taking place.

Local Anaesthetic

Unless you are undergoing a general anaesthesia local anaesthetic is always used during dental implants. Many people who do not require sedation will only need a local anaesthetic as it will totally numb any pain in the area that is being operated on. It is administered as an injection, or number of injections, into the relevant area. It takes only a couple of minutes to take effect but can take longer to completely wear off. For this reason you will probably be advised not to eat or drink for a couple of hours afterwards in order to avoid biting or otherwise injuring your mouth.

General Anaesthetic

General Anaesthesia is only used when you undergo very extensive surgery. A large number of dental implants or an extensive bone grafting will probably warrant general anaesthesia. You will need to ensure your dentist/anaesthetist knows your medical history and background before you are given a general anaesthetic to ensure that you have no allergies or issues which could complicate your anaesthesia.

The anaesthetic will be injected directly into your bloodstream by a needle placed into a vein in your wrist or elbow. This will very quickly cause you to become completely unconscious. You will be carefully monitored which you are asleep and when the treatment is complete you will be woken up. You will need to remain in hospital for a number of hours so that your doctor can ensure you are safe to leave. You will need to be collected by someone as you will not be able to drive or operate heavy machinery for 36 hours.

You will also be instructed not to eat, sometimes for 24 hours, before you are given a general anaesthetic. Your doctor or dentist will give you more specific, relevant advice about this.

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