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General anesthesia - IV sedation - Local anesthesia

Oral and maxillofacial surgery often requires the use of anesthesia to ensure patient comfort and the successful completion of the surgical procedure. As with any medical intervention, it's essential to understand the differences between the types of anesthesia available. This information page aims to shed light on the three primary anesthesia options: general anesthesia, IV sedation, and local anesthesia.

General Anesthesia

Description: General anesthesia renders the patient completely unconscious during the surgery. This state is achieved by administering a combination of intravenous drugs and inhaled gases (anesthetics). The patient will not remember the surgery or experience any sensation during the procedure.

Applications: Typically used for more involved oral and maxillofacial surgeries or when the patient prefers to be entirely unconscious.

Risks: As with any major medical procedure, there are associated risks. General anesthesia complications, although rare, may include allergic reactions, breathing difficulties, and, very rarely, death. The risk is higher for those with specific medical conditions or who smoke.

IV Sedation (Intravenous Sedation)

Description: IV sedation, also known as "conscious sedation" or "twilight sedation", involves the administration of sedative drugs directly into the bloodstream through an intravenous line. The patient remains conscious but in a deeply relaxed state, often with little to no memory of the procedure.

Applications: Preferred for patients who are anxious about their surgery or for procedures that might be uncomfortable but don't require complete unconsciousness.

Risks: IV sedation is generally safe when administered by trained professionals. However, there's a potential for allergic reactions, over-sedation, or respiratory issues. Proper monitoring of the patient's vital signs during the procedure significantly reduces these risks.

Local Anesthesia

Description: Local anesthesia involves numbing a specific area of the mouth with an injection, allowing the patient to remain fully awake and aware but without feeling pain in the numbed area.

Applications: Used for minor surgeries or procedures, such as tooth extractions or dental implant placements.

Risks: Risks associated with local anesthesia are minimal. They can include allergic reactions to the anesthetic agent, injury from the injection, or insufficient pain relief. It's also possible for the patient to experience palpitations or a racing heart if the local anesthetic contains epinephrine, but this is typically temporary and not harmful.


Choosing the right anesthesia depends on the complexity of the surgery, your health and comfort level, and the surgeon's recommendations. It's crucial to discuss your medical history, concerns, and preferences with your oral and maxillofacial surgeon to determine the most appropriate anesthesia type for your individual needs. Remember, the primary goal is to ensure your safety and comfort during the procedure.

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