Ever wonder what might be in store for you with the appointment coming up. A cavity that needs filling? New crown? Root canal? Dentists use anesthesia and sedation to prevent pain, and help patients relax during dental procedures. Let’s look at the several types of anesthesia that make your visit to the dentist relaxed and comfortable. Here are the different categories:

Local anesthesia

We can divide these up into two groups: topical anesthetic and injectable anesthetic. A topical anesthetic usually comes in liquid form, on the end of a cotton swab, applied to a specific area in order to prepare it for an injectable anesthetic. (You won’t feel the stick of the needle.) An injectable anesthetic, usually Lidocaine, is used before filling cavities, prepping teeth for a new crown, or treating gum disease. It works by blocking nerves that transmit pain, and also numbs the surrounding mouth tissues.

Nitrous Oxide

You may know it as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a mild sedative that really does wonders for a stress-free experience. Patients inhale the gas through a face mask, and then begin to relax and not recognize pain. Meanwhile, the doctor can perform treatments while you remain comfortable. Safe for patients of all ages, the effects of Nitrous Oxide subside immediately so you can enjoy activities, usually right after you leave the dental office.

General anesthesia

This is not something you’ll undergo at my dental office. It is used in complex dental procedures, where patients are given drugs that induce a loss of feeling and reduced consciousness. It’s not what we do during the routine dental procedures that we specialize in. Just bringing it to your attention.


As usual, this blog is not meant as medical advice, or a final word on anything that you are concerned about. For any dental problems or questions that you may have, please consult with me in person, or the dental professional of your choosing.


“I have been Dr. McNeil’s patient for more years than I can count. From the first day I met him and received treatment, I knew I did not need to look any further for a friendly, professional, and competent dentist. He has a unique office manner that makes you feel comfortable throughout any procedure (and I have experienced most).”

Ron S.