Patients with dental pain and/or infection require treatment at any age—sometimes that means you may need to go under general anesthesia or sedation. There are multiple reasons for this type of dental treatment. Some procedures require you to lie completely still, a lot of dental work needed, or the noise of the drill may be frightening. The goal for dentists is always to provide the safest, most pain-free treatment possible.
How safe is anesthesia or sedation in dental procedures?
Most patients don’t have trouble with local anesthesia. Sedation and general anesthesia are riskier for people with existing health conditions such as heart, liver, lung, or kidney problems. People with special needs, older patients, and young children also have an increased risk of suffering an complication due to anesthesia.
This dental procedure requires that there are always at least 2 people in the room who are trained to provide advanced life support measures in case there are any problems. One of these people will be the dentist or oral surgeon performing the procedure and the other will be an independent observer who is a physician anesthesiologist, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, a second oral surgeon, or a dentist anesthesiologist.
This article provides an overview of the various types of sedation and anesthesia. It’s important for patients to know their options. Speak with your dentist or oral surgeon about the types of sedation or anesthesia he or she recommends for your dental work prior to the appointment.
Types of sedation and anesthesia
The different levels of sedation range from conscious sedation, where you’re able to follow commands, to being unaware of your surroundings at all.
- Nitrous oxide: This is a mild sedative and the least invasive. It’s commonly known as laughing gas. Dental patients breath this along with oxygen. You don’t usually go to sleep, but most will get more relaxed. Most patients will get lightheaded or a little silly.
- Mild sedation: This medication is commonly used on both older children and adults. You would be calm and awake and usually able to do what the dentist or surgeon asks. After the procedure, you may not remember things about the dental treatment. Dentists and oral surgeons can safely give these medications while they do the dental work.
- Moderate sedation: Under moderate sedation patients are sleepier, but are usually able to do what the dentist or oral surgeon asks. Older children and adults do better with moderate sedation than younger children. They breath on their own and will typically wake up easily. Dentists and oral surgeons can safely give these medications while they do the dental work.
- Deep sedation: This involves intravenous (IV) medications that helps you sleep through the procedure. With this procedure, there must always be at least one additional qualified professional, such as an anesthesiologist who can monitor your heart rate, heart rhythm, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation during the procedure and until you wake up.
- General anesthesia: Under general anesthesia, you will be completely asleep and pain free. Specially-trained anesthesia professionals will administer medications and monitor you while a separate dentist or oral surgeon performs the dental procedure or surgery. Anesthesia can be given in a dental office that is specially equipped, an ambulatory surgical center, or a hospital.
Medication administration during your dental procedures
After sedation and anesthesia options are discussed with your dentist or oral surgeon, ask questions to find out exactly who will be administering the medications and who will be observing you during the dental procedure.
How to I choose a Sedation Dentist?
More and more dental offices are offering sedation dentistry under minimal to moderate sedation. However, not all dental offices may have the proper training, experience, or overall conduct with patients who require sedation dentistry. When seeking out an office with sedation dentistry abilities, it is important to take the following factors into consideration.
- Experience: A qualified dentist should have considerable experience providing sedation dentistry services to a wide variety of patients. This includes those with special needs, children, and others who benefit from sedation dentistry.
- Credentials: The American Dental Association has strict educational requirements for all levels of sedation dentistry. Dentists must meet these requirements and certifications in order to be allowed to administer specific levels of sedation. Additionally, membership to notable dental organizations such as the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology and the Special Care Dentistry Organization can be material proof of a dental professional’s abilities in sedation dentistry.
- Ongoing Training: The most qualified dental professionals often pursue continuing education to keep up in any advances in dentistry or sedation techniques.
- Specialization: Any general practices may be certified to administer certain levels of sedation, but those who specialize in sedation dentistry may be able to provide more comfort and care. This is especially important for patients with unique considerations, such as those with special needs.
- Communication: Sedation dentistry requires comprehensive communication between dental professionals and patients in order to ensure the safety of the patient. A dental professional who is thorough in communicating the status, health history, and considerations taken during sedation is likely more knowledgeable than a dentist who is less communicative and understanding.
- Care about total health: Dentists who understand how dental procedures can impact the total overall health of an individual are often the best equipped for sedation dentistry. This is especially important in patients with special needs, where extenuating circumstances have the potential to cause adverse effects as a result of sedation.
For anyone receiving deep sedation or general anesthesia an anesthesia professional or another dentist/oral surgeon who is trained in anesthesia must be present to help care for you. The dental sedation we provide is perfectly safe for the vast majority of patients.
Dr. Prida is committed to helping you and your family maintain excellent oral health for life. If you have questions about sedation dentistry or would like more information schedule an appointment online or call Stonelodge Dental at 214-613-1500.