We understand that it is not only young children who get scared and experience anxiety when visiting the dentist – many adults feel the same too, and it’s totally normal. However, it is important to understand that delaying or avoiding check-ups and treatments can lead to oral health complications. Fortunately, there are a number of sedation options that can help anxious patients get the care that they need and deserve – one of them is twilight anaesthesia.

What is twilight anaesthesia and how is it different from general anaesthesia?

General anaesthesia is usually administered intravenously, and is aimed at keeping the patient unconscious until the procedure has been successfully completed. With this type of sedation, the patient is unresponsive until the effects wear off. It may take several hours before the patient can regain consciousness following the administration of general anaesthetic drugs.

The twilight anaesthesia experience, on the other hand, is different. A small, controlled dose of the general anaesthetic drug is administered prior to the surgery. This makes the patient feel light headed and sleepy.

However, he/she will remain conscious throughout the surgery, and will also be able to follow simple instructions or directions given by the dental team. They will have little or no memory of the surgery once the effects start wearing off, but this is completely normal and the drugs do not in any way alter the patient’s long term memory. In a nutshell, you can stay awake and responsive during a dental procedure, but without feeling any anxiety, stress or pain – and without being able to recall how unpleasant it was once the effects have worn off!

What are the benefits of opting for twilight anaesthesia over other sedation options?

There are a number of advantages associated with choosing twilight anaesthesia over other options. Some of the most prominent ones include:

  • Faster recovery
  • Patient remains conscious throughout the surgery
  • Patient can easily follow simple instructions during the procedure, such as opening or closing the mouth, turning the head to a specific side etc.
  • Patient does not feel any anxiousness from the moment the anaesthesia has been administered until it wears off
  • Twilight anaesthesia is safe and FDA approved  
  • Does not leave patients with a bad memory of the procedure
  • Patients only feel sleepy and light headed during the surgery

What dental procedures can this form of sedation be used for?

For procedures that last a very short period of time, such as cleaning and fillings for instance, usually local anaesthetic drugs are used to numb the region. However, to manage severely anxious patients during extractions, root canals, implant procedures, soft tissue surgeries or veneer preparation, twilight sedation is ideal. It allows the dentist to perform the required treatment within the sedation time frame without the patient experiencing any form of pain, stress or discomfort. In contrast to other forms of sedation, the twilight sleep is highly safe and can easily be used on patients without the risk of complications.

How is twilight anaesthesia administered at the dental clinic?

The patient can either be sedated through the inhalation method, using nitrous oxide or intravenously using drugs in small doses such as propofol and ketamine (used for children) – both of which are safe and FDA approved. With small quantities of drug in their body, patients are less likely to show side effects like nausea and vomiting, which are common in the case of general anaesthesia.

If you experience elevated levels of stress and anxiety prior to your dental appointments that make you want to skip them – you’re in luck. With the right sedatives in place, you can get any dental procedure you need without experiencing an ounce of fear! At Southern Smiles we care about our patients and go the extra mile in providing them with top quality oral healthcare they truly deserve. Learn more about twilight anaesthesia and how it can help you maintain optimal dental health by giving us a call and booking your appointment today!

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