We Offer Several Methods of Anesthesia
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.
To administer general anesthesia in the office, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon must have completed a minimum of three months of hospital-based anesthesia training, and our doctors have done more than this minimal requirement. Qualified applicants will then undergo an in-office evaluation by a state dental board-appointed examiner. The examiner observes an actual surgical procedure during which general anesthesia is administered to the patient. The examiner also inspects all monitoring devices and emergency equipment and tests the doctor and the surgical staff’s competence on anesthesia-related emergencies. If the examiner reports successful completion of the evaluation process, the state dental board will issue the doctor a license to perform general anesthesia. The license must be renewed at least every five years and requires the doctor to maintain the required amount of continuing education units related to anesthesia.
Comfort Is Our Priority
Again, when it comes to anesthesia, our 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.
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.
USUAL INDICATIONS: Simple oral and maxillofacial surgery procedures, such as minor soft tissue procedures and simple tooth extractions.
Office-Based General Anesthesia With Local Anesthetic*
Medications are administered through an intravenous line (IV). The patient falls asleep and is completely unaware of the procedure being performed. Supplemental oxygen is delivered through a nasal breathing apparatus and the patient’s vital signs are closely monitored.
USUAL INDICATIONS: General anesthesia is available for all types of oral and maxillofacial surgery. A patient may choose general 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 general anesthesia. General anesthesia may be necessary if local anesthesia fails to anesthetize the surgical site, which often occurs in the presence of infection.
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.
USUAL INDICATIONS: Simple oral and maxillofacial surgery procedures to more involved procedures, such as removal of wisdom teeth or placement of dental implants.
Hospital or Surgery Center Based General Anesthesia
A patient is admitted to a hospital or surgery center where anesthesia is administered by an anesthesiologist.
USUAL INDICATIONS: Patients undergoing extensive procedures such as face and jaw reconstruction and TMJ surgery. Also, patients with medical conditions, such as heart disease or lung disease who require general anesthesia.
Intravenous Sedation (“Twilight Sedation”)
Our office offers patients the option of intravenous sedation, or what is referred to as “Twilight Sedation,” for their dental treatment. Intravenous sedation or “twilight sleep” helps the patient to be comfortable and calm when undergoing dental procedures. Treatment can be completed under intravenous sedation. Intravenous sedation or “IV sedation” (twilight sedation) is designed to better enable the patient to undergo dental procedures while very relaxed; it will enable the patient to tolerate as well as not remember procedures that may be very uncomfortable. IV sedation will essentially help alleviate the anxiety associated with treatment. The patient may not always be asleep, but will be comfortable, calm, and relaxed, drifting in and out of sleep – a “twilight sleep.” With this option of intravenous sedation, the IV sedation/anesthesia is administered and monitored by the doctor, therefore, eliminating the costly expense of having treatment carried out in an operating room or same-day surgical facility.
How Is the IV Sedation Administered?
A thin needle will be introduced into a vein in the patient’s arm or hand. The needle will be attached to an intravenous tube through which medication will be given to help the patient 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 in our offices.
For patients with a severe phobia or inability to tolerate the initial needle stick, an option for “breathe down anesthesia” is available. In this method, a mask is applied over the patient’s mouth and nose, much like laughing gas, and slow deep breaths are taken of an inhaled anesthetic. After 30-60 seconds of breathing an anesthetic gas, the patient will slip into a state of general anesthesia (sleep). At this point, an IV can be started without the patient being aware and the procedure completed. This is often a great option for young children with the fear of needles.