What is general anaesthesia?
General anaesthesia is a state of unconsciousness brought about by drugs in which you lose all feeling and sensation. While one is under the influence of a general anaesthetic they should not feel any pain or remember the procedure afterwards. The anaesthetic will gradually wear off following the procedure and you will regain consciousness. General anaesthetic when administered is designed to meet the needs of the particular patient and therefore the details of the procedure will vary from person to person. General anaesthetic is only employed in a hospital setting as it carries a certain risk. General anaesthesia is rarely used for dental treatment in the UK today and is considered as a last resort, where there is no other suitable method of pain and anxiety management for the person in question.
What are the alternatives?
General anaesthetic is neither appropriate nor necessary for most dental procedures. The other alternatives are local anaesthesia where only the relevant part of your mouth is numbed, relative analgesia and sedation. These alternatives are discussed at length in the article, ‘Pain Control in Dentistry.’ When you are assessed by your dentist the options and most appropriate types of anaesthesia will be discussed with you.
Preparing for general anaesthesia?
Instructions will be given to you by the hospital, verbally and in written form, well before the day of the procedure. These will help to clarify how you should best prepare for the general anaesthetic. Some of the important things to remember are to avoid eating or drinking approximately six hours before the operation. This will reduce the risk of vomiting during the procedure, which could be dangerous as the gag reflex will be suppressed preventing one from coughing. Vomit from your stomach has the potential of entering the lungs. Prior to the general anaesthetic a detailed medical history will be taken. It is...