If sedation or general anesthesia for dental or oral surgery is a new idea for you, or if you have been searching for a way to make dental care easier or less stressful for a family member, the answers to these Frequently Asked Questions may be helpful.
How does this process work?
When a dentist has a patient whom they think would be helped by a Dentist Anesthesiologist, the dentist will arrange for the anesthesiologist to come to the office and partner with them for your care. Your dentist will perform all the dental work. The Dentist Anesthesiologist will be with you throughout the procedure, fully focused on keeping you comfortable and safe. They will determine and administer the appropriate sedation or general anesthesia medications, monitor your breathing and vital signs, and be with you as you awaken.
How are Dentist Anesthesiologists trained?
Dentist Anesthesiologists are licensed dentists who must complete three additional years of accredited post-doctoral education in medical and dental anesthesiology. They must also meet stringent state requirements allowing them to provide anesthesia services in dental offices. Upon completing these rigorous requirements, they qualify as specialists in Dental Anesthesiology.
How does the Dentist Anesthesiologist decide what to give me?
Sedation and general anesthesia care are always individualized for each patient. Before treatment, the Dentist Anesthesiologist will take a medical history, explain what will happen and answer any questions. Together with your dentist, they will then determine the best approach to keep you comfortable and safe during the procedure. For more about this, click here.
What about small children?
Typically, advanced anesthesia for dentistry is recommended when a young child is unable to tolerate, or sit quietly through, the extensive dental treatment that is needed. With the child safely asleep, treatment that might otherwise take several visits can often be completed in one appointment, with less fear and anxiety for both the child and parents.
Will it be painful?
Someone under sedation or general anesthesia will not feel pain during the treatment and will likely have no memory of what happened during it. Local anesthesia may still be given, however, depending on a number of factors, such as if some discomfort is likely after the procedure. Your Dentist Anesthesiologist may suggest you take a common over-the-counter medicine if needed for pain or discomfort when you get home. You may also be given a prescription for other pain medication.
Where will my treatment be? What if something goes wrong?
Most often, you will be treated right in your dentist’s office. Most Dentist Anesthesiologists maintain mobile anesthesia practices and bring everything that is needed to transform the dentist’s office into a hospital-like anesthesia facility, including all the necessary monitoring equipment, emergency supplies and medications. As in a hospital operating room, equipment will be there to manage anesthetic reactions or medical emergencies.
How does this work when the patient has special needs?
There are many situations in which a patient can be more quickly and humanely treated under sedation or general anesthesia. For example, patients with Alzheimer’s disease may not recognize the dental office or be able to follow simple directions. Patients with Parkinson’s disease or cerebral palsy are sometimes unable to control their movements and could be injured with a dental instrument if they move suddenly. People with autism may resist having a stranger in their personal space. For more information on the kinds of special needs patients we work with, click here.
Can I drive myself?
No; someone will need to be with you when you arrive and when you are ready to be discharged. When you come out of the anesthesia, you may be sleepy for a while which makes it too dangerous for you to drive or take public transportation by yourself. Even if you are using a rideshare service, a family member or friend must see you home safely.