General anaesthetic

What is general anaesthetic?

General anaesthesia is a state of unconsciousness induced by one or more general anaesthetic agents.

The patient will lose all of their reflexes, feel no pain or discomfort and will have no memory of the treatment that is provided.  

Patients found to need a general anaesthetic for their treatment are asked to attend the out-patient department of either Musgrove or Yeovil hospital, where the anaesthetic is given by members of the hospital specialist team. Our staff provides the dental treatment as required.  

The general anaesthetic agent is administered via a needle in the hand and maintained during the procedure by inhalational agents using a mask. 

Why would a patient require dental treatment under general anaesthetic?

We try to avoid general anaesthetic where possible but the following patients may require it:

  • Young patients with little or no experience of dental treatment
  • Disabled patients with problems that would render dental treatment in the dental chair difficult or impossible
  • Patients with potentially life-threatening infections

We do not provide fillings for children under general anaesthetic. We only provide removal of the teeth.  

How will I be prepared for general anaesthesia?

You will have an assessment appointment with a dentist prior to receiving general anaesthetics. The following will be carried out at this appointment:

  • Checking of your contact details
  • Checking and recording of  your medical history
  • A full dental examination
  • Discussion of alternative methods, if appropriate
  • Explanation of what dental treatment will be undertaken
    You will be given written and verbal instructions that you MUST follow on the day of the general anaesthetic

If you decide to go ahead with the general anaesthetic then written consent is needed and you will be required to provide a signature. For those who do not have the ability to consent the appropriate people will be included in the assessment appointment such as parents and carers.

For adult patients with learning disabilities and their carers, the Taunton hospital has provided some very helpful information about what happens when you go to the hospital for a day surgery general anaesthetic. Please follow the link to Children's Day Surgery on Musgrove Park Hospital website.

There is a also very helpful series of resources about Hospital Procedures that can be downloaded from the website.  The Child Daycase Operation booklet is designed especially to help children with learning difficulties enjoy finding out about the procedures, sequence of events and people associated with a visit to hospital for a general anaesthetic.  You can download the resources by clicking on the link or on the image below.  

My Daycase Operation 

Who will carry out the general anaesthetic?

There will be several professionals present during the anaesthetic:

  • An anaesthetist, who will administer the general anaesthetic agent
  • An operating department assistant, who will assist the anaethetist
  • A dentist, who will provide the dental treatment
  • Two dental nurses, who will assist the dentist
  • Two recovery nurses
  • For children a registered children’s nurse will be present


What will happen on the day?

You will be seen on the ward before the anaesthetic by the ward staff, anaesthetist and /or dentist and necessary checks will be made.  

Once these checks have been made the general aneasethetic will be administered and the dental procedure carried out. During the anaesthetic procedure your condition will be continuously monitored.  

How will I recover / wake up from general anaesthesia?

The general anaesthetic agent is very short acting and your body will quickly dispose of the agents and you will gradually recover.  You will be kept on the ward until the anaesthetist, ward staff and the dental surgeon are satisfied that you are fit to go home.  You will be given post operative instruction. You MUST follow these.