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.
MethodTypes of AnesthesiaDescription of TechniqueUsual Indications
Method Local AnestheticDescription of Technique 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. A local anesthetic is used in conjunction with the other methods of anesthesia in all oral surgery procedures.Usual Indications Simple oral surgery procedures such as minor soft tissue procedures and simple tooth extractions.
Method Nitrous OxideDescription of Technique 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 surgery procedures to more involved procedures.
Method Office Based Intravenous AnesthesiaDescription of Technique 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 can be reviewed at the consultation visit. Supplemental oxygen is delivered through a nasal breathing apparatus and the patient’s vital signs are closely monitored.Usual Indications Intravenous anesthesia is available for all types of oral surgery. A patient may choose intravenous anesthesia for simple procedures depending on their level of anxiety. Most people having their wisdom teeth removed or other more difficult procedures will choose intravenous anesthesia. Intravenous anesthesia may be necessary if local anesthesia fails to anesthetize the surgical site which often occurs in the presence of infection.
Method Hospital-Based General AnesthesiaDescription of Technique A patient is admitted to a hospital or surgery center where anesthesia is administered by an anesthesiologist.Usual Indications 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 intravenous anesthesia in the office, an oral surgeon must have completed hospital-based anesthesia training. Qualified applicants will then undergo an in-office evaluation by a state dental board appointed an 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.
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.
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 dental treatment. Intravenous Sedation or “twilight sleep” helps you to be comfortable and calm when undergoing dental procedures. Your treatment can be completed under intravenous sedation. Intravenous sedation or “IV 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. The 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.
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 administered?
A small catheter will be introduced into a vein in your arm or hand. This will be attached to an intravenous tube through which medication will be given to help you relax and feel comfortable.
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.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Nitrous Oxide is a sweet smelling, non irritating, colorless gas that you breathe. Nitrous Oxide has been the primary means of sedation in dentistry for many years. Nitrous oxide is safe and has been used for years. 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, MS, cold or other difficulties with breathing. Your doctor can discuss this and all anesthesia options with you.