Frequently asked questions

1. What is the difference between GA and Sedation?

In the past GA was frequently prescribed to carry out dental procedures while the patient was unconscious. This was often done either by placing a mask over the child’s face while the child inhaled volatile gasses or by the administration of intravenous anaesthetic i.e. an injection in the arm or the back of the hand. While the patient is unconscious a tube is usually inserted through the nose into the trachea (windpipe) while the patient is paralysed and the anaesthetist frequently has to breathe for the patient. This procedure carries a risk of death of about 1 in 200 000 in general dental practice. (Although small, it is nevertheless significant). This option has been banned from general dental practice by the Department of Health from the end of 2001.

During the past few years sedative drugs and techniques have been developed which have eclipsed the need for GA in dentistry. During sedation the patients are conscious but they are not aware of any pain and have no recollection of the dental procedure. This technique is very safe when carried out by a well trained Sedationist and his team in appropriate surroundings. Dr Michael Wood has done research on paediatric sedation and is currently one of the country’s leading authorities on paediatric sedation. With sedation, the patient breathes for himself and does not suffer the ill effects of GA, nausea, muscle pains and sore nose and throat.

2. What is the difference between NHS and Private?

NHS treatments are limited in their range and often prevent the patient having adequate treatment to restore oral health. During private treatment materials of higher quality are used to carry out treatment, the laboratories will take more time and care to produce a higher quality denture or crown with a better fit and better aesthetics creating a better environment for oral health. Often, because the way the NHS sedation fees are structured, private sedition's can carry on much longer and more work can be accomplished during a visit.

3. I am scared of needles, what can you do to minimise this fear?

Before you attend our clinic you can go to your GP and tell him/her of your concerns. He may prescribe you some Ametop or EMLA cream which contains local anaesthetic solution and applying this to your hands one hour prior to your dental visit will numb you hands so that you will not feel any sensation during cannulation. On your arrival at our clinic notify our receptionist who will let the Sedationist know. The Sedationist may ask you to inhale a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen gasses (similar to the Entonox women use during childbirth) to make them feel more relaxed before inserting the cannula.

4. While I am sedated, will I be able to hear, feel or see anything?

You will be able to hear things as verbal contact must be maintained – as per the GDC definition of conscious sedation. If we ask you to take a deep breath, you will respond, but you will not remember this and none of what is occurring will worry or trouble you. You may not be able to see anything as we cover your eyes with protective glasses and patients frequently feel so relaxed that they fall asleep during treatment. Your mouth is numbed up as usual in the dental surgery but you will not be able to recall this happening and the dental treatment will proceed while your teeth and gums are completely numb so that you won’t be able to feel anything.

5. How long will recovery take?

This depends largely on the amount of sedation and the amount of dental work that you have received. This also depends on your metabolism of the sedative drugs used in your sedation. Typically most patients have left the premises within 45 minutes of going into our recovery facility where a trained nurse will supervise your recovery and give you your postoperative instructions.


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