There are basically 3 options available on how you control anxiety, pain and memory of your surgical procedure:

Local anaesthesia

This is by injections into the mouth, as would be given for fillings. You remember everything you see, feel and hear but you should not experience pain.

This usually means you do not require anyone to bring you to and from the surgery. Theoretically you should be able to look after yourself that day. You do not have to avoid food and drink before the operation however you should not over indulge.

Local anaesthesia with IV sedation

Is where an injection of sedatives is given by an anaesthetist, via a vein in the arm or back of the hand. This reduces the memory of the operation while producing relaxation and better pain control. In addition to this, the normal dental injections are given to stop the pain, but this is not remembered.

This means someone has to take you home and look after you until the next day. You must fast for 6 hours prior to the procedure.

General Anaesthesia

General anaesthesia is a safe procedure that produces loss of consciousness and total absence of pain. This is achieved either by an injection into a vein, or by inhaling gases.

There are many anaesthetic drugs now available each with its own special properties. The most appropriate one will be chosen for your particular operation and needs.

Two types of stay in hospital

  • Stay in hospital for a short period after the operation and go home that day.
  • Stay in hospital overnight after the operation and go home the next day.

Requirements for general anaesthesia

  • No eating or drinking for at least 6-8 hours before the anaesthetic.
  • If a smoker, you should stop for 3 weeks before the anaesthetic.
  • If on any medication, it is essential to bring it with you to the hospital.
  • If there is any change in your physical condition, such as a cold or fever, contact your clinician.
  • If you have any relevant radiographs please bring them to the hospital.
  • It is a good idea to wear loose comfortable clothing and footwear. Leave your jewellery and valuables at home. Bring your basic toiletry items with you, especially if you are staying overnight.
  • You must not have any aspirin for at least 2 weeks before the operation. If there is pain, use paracetamol.
  • No chewing gum before the anaesthetic as this will produce excess saliva which will pool in the stomach.

On admission to hospital

You may or may not be given an injection or tablets before the operation to relax you and induce drowsiness.

On arrival at theatre

The anaesthesia will be by injection into your arm or back of the hand, or by a mask placed on your face.

The operation

During the operation the anaesthetist will constantly monitor your breathing, pulse and blood pressure, and control these as necessary.


After the operation if you have any significant pain or feel nauseous, an injection or tablet will be given to make you feel more comfortable.

  • It is essential to be escorted home
  • It is important not to swallow blood, as this will produce vomiting.
  • You should expect a sore throat for the first 24 hours after the anaesthetic.
  • Some people find their concentration is not the best for a few days after the anaesthetic. Important decisions should be avoided during this time, and note that people are legally not allowed to drive a vehicle for 24 hours after an anaesthetic.
  • Most of the drugs are eliminated from the body shortly after the operation, but some remain for several days.
  • Occasionally the vein used can become tender. If this occurs keep the arm warm and at chest level. Certain ointments can help ease discomfort.