Going to the dentist can be a worrisome task for some people. In the past, many of these people chose to have general anesthesia employed as a way of avoiding their fears. In other cases, in the past, this type of anesthesia was used because the treatment itself required it and there were no suitable local anesthesia options available. That has now all changed. New products are available that are very safe and effective and do not require the patient to “go under”. There are many advantages to using these, and there are disadvantages to using general anesthesia that people should know about. Here are some of the more important disadvantages.

General anesthesia (also known as GA) can cause the respiratory system, as well as the cardiovascular system, to become depressed. In fact, because of these possible dangers, many procedures specifically contradict the use of GA.

GA is not often used (or even recommended) for most types of routine dental treatments such as fillings. The risk of complications is simply too great. Routine procedures today can be treated safely without the use of anesthesia or with the use of local anesthesia.

Another disadvantage to GA is that it often requires that chest x-rays, lab test and an ECG be taken before GA can be used. Also, all GA requires that special-trained personnel are in attendance. This can be very expensive. In addition, when GA is used the dentist must be more aware of problems that can occur. This is especially true if a breathing tube is being used.

Lastly, when GA is used the patient is not allowed to eat or drink for at least 6-8 hours before the procedure. Eating or drinking before the procedure can cause the patient to vomit which can be a very serious problem. It can even be fatal in some extreme cases.