Dentistry has advanced to the point in which pain is almost a thing of the past. Powerful pain-killing medications known as anesthetics not only help a patient avoid discomfort during a procedure, but post-operatively as well. Some patients, especially children, may require higher doses of anesthetic than others.

Types of pain-killing medications include:


Analgesics are also called pain relievers and include common non-narcotic medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Analgesics are usually used for mild cases of discomfort, and are typically prescribed following such procedures as a root canal or tooth extraction.

Local anesthesia

Anesthetics can be topically applied, injected or swallowed. Dentists often apply topical anesthetics with a cotton swab to an area of the mouth where a procedure such as a restoration will be performed. This numbs the affected area. Topical anesthetics are used in many dental procedures such as tooth restoration. Topical anesthetics also are used to prepare an area for injection of an anesthetic. Novocaine and Lidocaine are the most kind of injectable anesthetics. Such medications block the nerves from transmitting signals and are used for more major types of procedures such as fillings and root canals.

Sedation and general anesthesia

Sedatives are medications designed to help a patient relax. This can be a powerful tool in avoiding pain. Sedatives are sometimes used in combination with other types of pain relievers and painkillers. Conscious sedation involves administering a sedative while the patient is alert and awake. Deep sedation or general anesthesia involves administering a medication that places a patient in a state of monitored and controlled unconsciousness.

Types of sedatives include:

  • Intravenous (IV) sedation – Usually in the form of a tranquilizing agent; patients given IV sedation are often awake, but very relaxed.

General anesthesia, or intravenous sedation, may be recommended for certain children. General anesthesia is administered and monitored by an anesthesiologist in our office while the dentist performs the dental treatment.

Before your child’s appointment: 

  • Please notify us of any change in your child’s health or medical condition. Do not bring your child in for treatment with a fever, ear infection or cold. Should your child become ill, contact us to see if it is necessary to reschedule. 
  • Tell the dentist and staff of any drugs your child is currently taking, any drug reactions and/or change in medical history.
  • Please dress your child in loose fitting, comfortable clothing.
  • Please make sure your child goes to the bathroom immediately prior to arriving at the office.
  • Your child will need to arrive with an empty stomach. You will receive special instructions regarding eating and drinking prior to the appointment.
  • The child’s parent/legal guardian must remain at the office during the complete procedure. 

After the appointment:

  • Your child will be drowsy and will need to be monitored closely.
  • You will receive specific instructions for care of your child after the general anesthesia.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, please call the office immediately.

Powerful pain-killing medications known as anesthetics not only help a patient avoid discomfort during a procedure, but post-operatively as well. Your dentist will talk to you about the most appropriate sedation option to address your particular needs.

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