19 doctors weighed in:

What is the difference between IV sedation and general anesthesia for having wisdom tooth extractions?

19 doctors weighed in
Dr. Karen Sibert
Anesthesiology
6 doctors agree

In brief: Depends on situation

Iv sedation can be provided by an oral surgeon, and is often a very good technique for wisdom tooth extraction.
For certain high-risk patients (morbid obesity, severe heart or lung problems), general anesthesia with a breathing tube and control of the airway may be a safer alternative. Every case is different, and an individualized care plan with anesthesiology consultation may be in order.

In brief: Depends on situation

Iv sedation can be provided by an oral surgeon, and is often a very good technique for wisdom tooth extraction.
For certain high-risk patients (morbid obesity, severe heart or lung problems), general anesthesia with a breathing tube and control of the airway may be a safer alternative. Every case is different, and an individualized care plan with anesthesiology consultation may be in order.
Dr. Karen Sibert
Dr. Karen Sibert
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Dr. James Beck
Dentistry
5 doctors agree

In brief: IV not as "deep"

General anesthesia is done in a hospital setting and is like being put to sleep for surgery.
Iv sedation can be done in the dental clinic and is not as "deep" of sedation as general. Iv is more common for wisdom tooth extraction. You are awake during IV sedation, but will not remember the procedure. Iv sedation is also less expensive. In my opinion IV sedation is more appropriate than general.

In brief: IV not as "deep"

General anesthesia is done in a hospital setting and is like being put to sleep for surgery.
Iv sedation can be done in the dental clinic and is not as "deep" of sedation as general. Iv is more common for wisdom tooth extraction. You are awake during IV sedation, but will not remember the procedure. Iv sedation is also less expensive. In my opinion IV sedation is more appropriate than general.
Dr. James Beck
Dr. James Beck
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1 comment
Dr. Karen Sibert
For patients with special health issues (morbid obesity, severe heart or lung problems), IV sedation may sometimes be more hazardous than general anesthesia. High-risk patients should have consultation beforehand to determine which type of anesthesia would be safest for each individual case.
Dr. Daniel Sampson
Surgery - Oral & Maxillofacial
4 doctors agree

In brief: Slightly different

We generally refer to anesthesia as a spectrum of loss of consciousness.
Sedation would typically mean that you may still be somewhat aware of what is going on, while under general anesthesia you are not aware. Iv sedation can turn into general anesthesia with more medication. In general, the surgeon will administer medication to keep you comfortable and unaware of the procedure.

In brief: Slightly different

We generally refer to anesthesia as a spectrum of loss of consciousness.
Sedation would typically mean that you may still be somewhat aware of what is going on, while under general anesthesia you are not aware. Iv sedation can turn into general anesthesia with more medication. In general, the surgeon will administer medication to keep you comfortable and unaware of the procedure.
Dr. Daniel Sampson
Dr. Daniel Sampson
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Dr. Richard Vachon
Dentistry
3 doctors agree

In brief: Big difference

With IV sedation, you will be able to breathe on your own in most cases.
With general anesthesia, you are out completely, and need assistance for breathing. This is usually accomplished by a breathing tube. There are more possible complications using general anesthesia.

In brief: Big difference

With IV sedation, you will be able to breathe on your own in most cases.
With general anesthesia, you are out completely, and need assistance for breathing. This is usually accomplished by a breathing tube. There are more possible complications using general anesthesia.
Dr. Richard Vachon
Dr. Richard Vachon
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1 comment
Dr. Karen Sibert
I have to disagree. It is possible (and done all the time!) to have general anesthesia without a breathing tube. This can be accomplished by mask or with airway devices such as an LMA. GA, although you are completely unconscious, does not always involve a breathing tube or ventilator. Talk to an anesthesiologist for further information.
Dr. Jake Richards
Dentistry
3 doctors agree

In brief: Breathing

General is actually when you are completely "put out" meaning a machine is actually breathing for you and you are intubated.
Iv is also called concious sedation, you are breathing, partially awake but have no recolection of the procedure. You still feel like you were "put out" IV is much more common for wisdom teeth. Less risk, less recovery, less cost.

In brief: Breathing

General is actually when you are completely "put out" meaning a machine is actually breathing for you and you are intubated.
Iv is also called concious sedation, you are breathing, partially awake but have no recolection of the procedure. You still feel like you were "put out" IV is much more common for wisdom teeth. Less risk, less recovery, less cost.
Dr. Jake Richards
Dr. Jake Richards
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1 comment
Dr. Karen Sibert
I have to disagree on one point. It is possible (and done all the time!) to have general anesthesia without being intubated. GA can be given by mask or with airway devices such as LMAs which enable a patient to breathe spontaneously while completely anesthetized. Talk to your anesthesiologist for further information.
Dr. Richard Pollard
Anesthesiology
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Degree

The use of IV sedatives is just a step along the route to a full general anesthetic.
In general anesthesia the amount of sedatives is increased until you fall asleep to the point where we have to take over for you.

In brief: Degree

The use of IV sedatives is just a step along the route to a full general anesthetic.
In general anesthesia the amount of sedatives is increased until you fall asleep to the point where we have to take over for you.
Dr. Richard Pollard
Dr. Richard Pollard
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