As you are preparing for an oral health surgery, you dentist may have asked you during your consultation if you prefer local anesthesia or general anesthesia. This question may have blindsided you a bit, and you may not the differences between the two. Although your dentist should take the time to thoroughly explain the differences to you, consider this a guide so that you are more knowledgeable going into the conversation.
Local anesthesia is applied topically or injected into the site where the surgery will be performed. Once applied, the anesthetic will essentially numb the site, blocking sensations of pain in the surrounding nerves. Local anesthesia is best used for smaller procedures, such as root canals or fillings. These anesthetics are considered very safe and offer few side effects. Local anesthesia is reversible, and its effects typically wear off after a couple of hours. It may be difficult to eat or drink while the anesthetic is still in effect.
General anesthesia essentially causes you to “sleep” through the procedure by inducing an anesthetic condition throughout the entire body. Once being administered the anesthetic, you will not hear or see anything, nor you will remember anything from the procedure – essentially the same effects as being asleep. When you “wake up” or come-to, the surgery will be complete.
General anesthetic can be considered the more comfortable option, especially if you are squeamish. However, it can also be more expensive. You should check with your health insurance provider to find out what is and is not covered during the procedure. They may only cover a general anesthetic if it is for a significant oral health surgery, such as wisdom teeth removal.