Several methods of anesthesia are available. The method of anesthesia that is chosen for or by a patient depends upon the nature of the surgical procedure and the patient’s level of apprehension.
The following table illustrates the choices of anesthesia, a description of the anesthetic technique, and the usual indications for that technique.
|Method of Anesthesia||Description of Technique||Usual Indications|
|Local Anesthetic||The patient remains totally conscious throughout the procedure. A local anesthetic (e.g. lidocaine) is administered in the area where the surgery is to be performed. Local anesthetic is used in conjunction with the other methods of anesthesia in all oral surgery procedures.||Simple oral surgery procedures such as minor soft tissue procedures and simple tooth extractions.|
|Nitrous Oxide Sedation with Local Anesthetic||A mixture of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and oxygen is administered through a nasal breathing apparatus. The patient remains conscious in a relaxed condition. Nitrous oxide has a sedative and analgesic (pain- controlling) effect.||Simple oral surgery procedures such as certain single extractions to more involved procedures such as removal of wisdom teeth in certain circumstances.|
|Office Based Conscious Intravenous Sedation with Local Anesthetic*||Medications are administered through an intravenous line (I.V.). The patient falls asleep and is unaware of the procedure being performed. Supplemental oxygen is delivered through a nasal breathing apparatus and the patient’s vital signs are closely monitored.||Intravenous anesthesia is available for all types of oral surgery. A patient may choose this type anesthesia for simple procedures depending on their level of anxiety. Most people having their wisdom teeth removed or having a dental implant placed will choose an intravenous anesthesia. This may also be necessary if local anesthesia fails to anesthetize the surgical site which often occurs in the presence of infection.|
|Hospital or Surgery Center Based General Anesthesia||A patient is admitted to a hospital or surgery center where anesthesia is administered by an anesthesiologist.||Indicated for patients undergoing extensive procedures such as face and jaw reconstruction and TMJ surgery. Also indicated for patients with medical conditions such as heart disease or lung disease, or patients who’s surgery can not be performed in-office for other reasons may require general anesthesia.|
To administer conscious intravenous sedation in the office, an oral surgeon must have completed at least four to six months of hospital based anesthesia training. The oral surgeon completes hundreds of intravenous sedations throughout their training program. Qualified applicants will then undergo an evaluation by a dental specialist board appointed examiner. If the examiner reports successful completion of the evaluation process, the dental board will issue the doctor a license to perform conscious intravenous sedation. All monitoring devices and emergency equipment are tested and inspected regularly. The license is renewable every two years if the doctor maintains the required amount of continuing education units related to anesthesia.
Again, when it comes to anesthesia, our first priority is the patient’s comfort and safety. If you have any concerns regarding the type of anesthesia that will be administered during your oral surgery procedure, please do not hesitate to discuss your concerns with your doctor at the time of your consultation.
Conscious Intravenous Sedation “IV Sedation”
Our office offers our patients the option of conscious intravenous sedation for their dental treatment. Conscious intravenous sedation or “IV sedation” is designed to better enable you to undergo your dental procedure while you are very relaxed and comfortable; it will enable you to tolerate as well as not remember those procedures that may be very uncomfortable for you. IV sedation will essentially help alleviate the anxiety associated with your treatment. You may not always be asleep but you will be comfortable, calm and relaxed, drifting in and out of sleep.
If the option of intravenous sedation is recommended for your treatment, the IV sedation is administered and monitored by the doctor and registered nurse.
How is the IV sedation administered?
A thin needle will be introduced into a vein in your arm or hand. The needle will be attached to an intravenous tube through which medication will be given to help you relax and feel comfortable. At times, a patient’s vein may not be maintainable, in these situations the medications will be administered and the needle retrieved – both scenarios will achieve the same desired level of conscious sedation. Once again some patients may be asleep while others will slip in and out of sleep. Some patients with medical conditions and/or on specific drug regimens may only be lightly sedated and may not sleep at all.
The goal of IV sedation is to use as little medication as possible to get the treatment completed. It is very safe, much safer than oral sedation. With IV sedation a constant “drip” is maintained via the intravenous tube. At any time an antidote can be administered to reverse the effects of the medications if necessary. Along with IV sedation, there are also other different “levels” of sedation available to you in our office.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Nitrous Oxide is a sweet smelling, non irritating, colorless gas which you can breathe. Nitrous oxide has been the primary means of sedation in dentistry for many years. Nitrous oxide is safe; the patient receives 50-70% oxygen with no less than 30% nitrous oxide. Patients are able to breathe on their own and remain in control of all bodily functions. The patient may experience mild amnesia and may fall asleep not remembering all of what happened during their appointment.
There are many advantages to using Nitrous Oxide
- The depth of sedation can be altered at any time to increase or decrease sedation;
- There is no after effect such as a “hangover”;
- Inhalation sedation is safe with no side effects on your heart and lungs;
- Inhalation sedation is very effective in minimizing gagging;
- It works rapidly as it reaches the brain within 20 seconds. In as few as 2-3 minutes, its relaxation and pain killing properties develop.
Reasons to Not use Nitrous Oxide
Though there are no major contraindications to using nitrous oxide, you may not want to use it if you have emphysema, exotic chest problems, M.S., a cold or other difficulties with breathing. Also, if you are pregnant, this is not an appropriate option of sedation. Please ask our office if you have any questions about the types of sedation we offer.