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. Oral medications such as Valium can also be taken in addition to nitrous oxide gas to provide an increased level of relaxation. Simple oral surgery procedures to more involved procedures such as removal of wisdom teeth and placement of dental implants.
Office Based Intravenous/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 Diprivan. Supplemental oxygen is delivered and the patient’s vital signs are closely monitored, by a highly trained team. Intravenous/General Anesthesia is available for all types of oral surgery. A patient may choose intravenous general anesthesia for simple procedures depending on their level of anxiety. Most people having their wisdom teeth removed will choose general anesthesia. Intravenous/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, while the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon performs the procedure. Indicated for patients undergoing extensive procedures such as face and jaw reconstruction and TMJ surgery. Also indicated for special needs patients or patients with medical conditions such as heart disease or lung disease who require general anesthesia.

To administer intravenous/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 inspects all monitoring devices and emergency equipment and tests the doctor and the surgical staff on anesthesia related emergencies.

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 offers our patients the option of Intravenous Sedation or Dental Intravenous Anesthesia or to some it is referred to as “Twilight Sedation” for their oral surgery treatment. Intravenous Sedation or “twilight sleep” helps you to be comfortable and calm when undergoing oral surgery procedures. Your treatment can be completed under intravenous sedation. Intravenous sedation or “IV sedation” (twilight sedation) is designed to better enable you to undergo your oral surgery 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”.  there is excellent amnesia associated with intravenous sedation, so it is likely you will not remember having the procedure performed.

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 a hospital operating room or same day surgical facility.

How is the IV Sedation Administered?

A very small 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. 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, and has an outstanding record. 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. There is nitrous oxide analgesia.

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 the nitrous oxide gas. 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. Nitrous oxide gas works well for minor  short procedures, to provide relaxation. If you want to be more sedated, intravenous anesthesia is a better option.

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 and 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. Nitrous oxide gas can not be used if you are pregnant.