Going back in time, dentists could give nervous patients a general anaesthetic, who would then drift off to sleep and wake up when all the nasty drilling and filling was over. In the 1960s my mother-in-law would actually look forward to going to the dentist, who would always put her to sleep before he did any dental work. She would wake up, pay, and after recovering would walk home not remembering one thing of what had gone on.
Fast forward and it’s now illegal in the UK for dentists to give patients a general anaesthetic. I know, because I’ve been trying to find a suitable one due to the radiotherapy legacy of an over-sensitive mouth and throat causing me much distress (which we don’t need to go into in great detail) in my current dentist’s chair.
At last I found one by trawling the Internet. They are not too far away and they give sedation; not a general anaesthetic, but an injection that leaves patients ‘relaxed and in a dream-like state’. The anaesthetist actually works part-time in the same hospital that I do, and although it’s quite expensive and not through my current Denplan insurance, I jumped at the chance to actually have some work done which I had been putting off because I just couldn’t tolerate my current dentist doing it.
So yesterday I turned up at the new surgery, nervous as hell. There they were, the dentist and anaesthetist, standing there waiting for my carcass like two circling vultures. I was ushered onto the dreaded chair in a flash. I tried to make some polite conversation as the cannula was inserted into the back of my hand, and asked whether I would be getting a shot of Midazolam. The anaesthetist looked quite surprised, and replied that it was only a small dose of Midazolam but the main ingredient was Propofol as Midazolam caused too much drowsiness the next day. I immediately thought of poor old Michael Jackson and his Propofol-induced sleeping regime, but decided not to comment on that.
Very soon I was pleasantly circling the airport and was aware that two teeth were being prepared for root canal treatment, but I didn’t care two hoots. An hour passed in a flash, and I slowly woke up, amazed that it was all over. The anaesthetist told me that I was so relaxed that he had to tell me to take some deep breaths at one point because my oxygen levels were decreasing, and I duly did so! I have two more of these Mickey Finn’s to undergo, but am not dreading any more drilling. Sam drove me home and I ate some dinner without all the usual nausea that accompanies an anaesthetic.
If I had stayed with the other dentist, I am sure I would have started to lose some teeth before too long. Apparently my new dentist is the only one in the county that offers sedation. Thank goodness I discovered the pair of them. It ain’t cheap, but as Sam says…I’m worth it!