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General anesthesia for dental treatments

Most of the world’s population has reservations regarding dental treatments. Quite a few people prefer to suffer terrible tooth pain and take pain killing medication with the hope that the problem will resolve itself, than submit themselves to the dentist’s treatment chair; but eventually they have to.

But there is another group, comprising between 6%-14% of the population, who actually avoid going to the dentist altogether, and for whom regular dental treatment simply is not an option. In these cases, dental treatment under general anesthesia is the last recourse.

One such group is those suffering from dental anxiety, when the person actually suffers more from the paralyzing fear of dental treatments than the severe pain caused by the neglect. In most cases of people suffering from dental anxiety, the anxiety developed at a young age due to inappropriate, unprofessional responses towards their distress. A person suffering from anxiety and tooth pain also ends up suffering from low self-esteem, and ends up distancing himself from society because of the miserable state of his mouth. This state of anxiety does not discriminate; there are even combat pilots and soldiers who would rather face live enemy fire than go to the dentist.

Aside from dental anxiety sufferers, people often refrain from visiting the dentist due to other reasons, such as various pressures and tensions, intensified sensitivity to oral contact, nausea when an examination tool enters the mouth, various allergies and more. In all of these cases, the final result of neglecting one’s mouth and the need for comprehensive treatment is identical; in these cases, treatment performed under general anesthesia is appropriate and even may be the last possible remedy to stop the deterioration before it is too late.

However, it is important to remember that general anesthesia is an unnatural intervention which, when possible, should be avoided. Perform dental treatments is useful in these cases when there is no other option and the patient will opt to neglect his teeth than perform conventional treatment.

Another reason to choose a regular treatment when possible is that the results of treatments under general anesthesia could be less successful than those performed conventionally. This may be due to the fact that there is no time to attempt to save a tooth since the healing process cannot be tracked, and therefore it will be extracted, or due to the inability of the patient to cooperate while under anesthesia.

Treatment under general anesthesia requires the participation of experts in the field, specialization and vast experience. In most cases, the bulk of the treatments are performed at once - usually fillings, extractions, root canals, periodontal treatment, implants and tooth grinding, and at the end of the anesthesia, temporary crowns can be placed. What remains is follow up until everything has completely healed, at which point the permanent rehabilitation is placed.

The good news is that after treatment under general anesthesia, a significant number of people who suffered from anxiety learn to overcome their phobia and have the courage to receive later treatments with local anesthetics as is customary. The explanation for this phenomenon apparently is that after a comprehensive dental treatment under general anesthesia, the patients have a remedial experience.

In addition, after a long period of embarrassment and suffering from their mouth, they suddenly wake up with a repaired mouth and a healthy smile, which is a huge positive encouragement with the power to effect change. The ability to suddenly smile and be an active part of society is a pleasant experience which will encourage these people to want to keep their mouth healthy, and this is one of the primary incentives for overcoming the anxiety and cooperating with the dental team.

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