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 removal of wisdom teeth 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 Fentanyl (opiate), Versed (benzodiazepine), Ketamine, and Propofol. 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 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.|
|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 who require general anesthesia.|
To administer general anesthesia in the office, an oral surgeon must have completed at least three months of hospital based anesthesia training. 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 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.
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.
Intravenous Sedation (“Twilight Sedation”)
Our office also offers our patients the option of Intravenous Sedation or to some it is referred to as “Twilight Sedation” for their dental treatment. This is a good alternative to those patients who may not want to be completely unconscious, but need more than nitrous oxide to feel comfortable. Intravenous Sedation or “twilight sleep” helps you to be comfortable and calm when undergoing dental procedures. Intravenous sedation or “IV sedation” (twilight sedation) is designed to better enable you to undergo your dental procedures while you are very relaxed; 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 – a “twilight sleep”.
If you choose the option of intravenous sedation your IV sedation/anesthesia is administered and monitored by the doctor therefore eliminating the costly expense of having your treatment carried out in an operating room or same day surgical facility.
How is the IV Sedation or General Anesthesia Administered?
As safety is our first priority, we use all the same monitors that you would find in a hospital OR setting. These include an EKG (to look at your heart rhythm), blood pressure monitoring, pulse oximetry (measures your oxygen saturation), end tidal CO2 (measures your exhaled CO2). In addtion to these monitors, we also use what we call a prechordial stethoscope, which is a small amplifier that rests on your neck and transmits to a custom earpiece. This allows Dr. Turley to physically hear your breaths and your breathing. A small IV is started either in the arm or the hand, which is then attached to plastic tubing through which medication will be given to help you relax and feel comfortable. Depending on the level of anesthesia desired, you may drift in and out, or you may be completely sedated. We always maintain strict safety protocols, which may inhibit your ability to have the depth of anesthesia you would like. If there are times during the procedure in which your breathing becomes difficult or labored, we likely will lighten the anesthesia to “wake” you up to get you to breath better. Sometimes patients may feel like they kept waking up during surgery. This is likely due to us trying to maintain a good airway and good breathing to keep the anesthesia safe during the entirety of the procedure.
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, 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. You may want to ask your dentist for a “5 minute trial” to see how you feel with this type of sedation method before proceeding.