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.

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 to more involved procedures such as impacted canine exposures and placement of dental implants.
Office Based General Anesthesia with Local Anesthetic* Medications are administered through an intravenous line (I.V.). The patient falls asleep and is completely unaware of the procedure being performed. Medications most commonly used are Decadron, Fentanyl, Propofol, Robinul and Versed. Supplemental oxygen is delivered through a nasal breathing apparatus and the patient’s vital signs are closely monitored. General anesthesia is available for all types of oral surgery. A patient may choose general anesthesia for simple procedures, depending on their level of anxiety. Most patients having their wisdom teeth removed, for example, will choose general anesthesia. General anesthesia may be necessary if local anesthesia fails to anesthetize the surgical site, which may occur 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 who have medical contraindications to in-office general anesthesia. If needed, this type of setting will be discussed at your consultation appointment.

To administer general anesthesia in the office, an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon must complete an extensive amount of hospital-based anesthesia training. Qualified applicants will then undergo an in-office evaluation by a state dental board appointed examiner. The examiner observes actual surgical procedures 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 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 is renewable every two years if the doctor maintains the required amount of continuing education units related to anesthesia. 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 at the time of your consultation.

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. It is very safe, and in fact, much safer than oral sedation. With IV sedation, upon induction, medication is titrated on an “as-needed” basis, so as to create a safe and balanced surgical and anesthetic envorinment. At any time, an antidote can be administered to reverse the effects of the medications if necessary. 

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 even fall asleep.

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, etc.
  • 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. Please advise us if you have any history of cardiovascular or pulmonary issues that may poentially interfere with the use of nitrous oxide.