If you find yourself at this page it is likely that your dentist has recommended intravenous sedation or general anesthesia as a necessary tool to treat the dental needs of you or your loved one. Below are answers to some commonly asked questions regarding intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. We hope that this information will allow you, in conjunction with your dentist, to make informed decisions regarding your anesthesia care.
Why is intravenous sedation or general anesthesia necessary?
For most dental procedures, pain control is achieved through local anesthesia, meaning that your dentist ‘freezes’ the tissue he or she will be working on by injecting a small amount of anesthetic directly into the area. For very anxious patients dentists may choose to supplement the local anesthesia by having them inhale a sedative gas such as nitrous oxide. Although adequate for most minor cases, some patients require a deeper level of anesthesia than local anesthesia and nitrous oxide can provide. Children, anxious adults, patients with physical or mental disabilities, and those undergoing complex or prolonged procedures are among those who may require deeper sedation. The deeper sedation increases patient comfort and also helps create ideal working conditions for dentists, allowing them to provide patients with the best possible dental care.
It is in this area of intravenous sedation and general anesthesia that Dr. Hussain, as a dentist anesthesiologist, specializes. Having received extensive training in the field of anesthesiology, he is uniquely qualified to provide the deeper levels of sedation and anesthesia some patients will require.
Will I have the opportunity to speak with Dr. Hussain?
Yes, most definitely. Once a date for treatment has been decided upon, Dr. Hussain will contact you directly to discuss the procedure with you and answer any questions that you may have. At this time he will also review some important pre/post-anesthetic instructions with you.
Your treating physician will be contacted to discuss those medical issues that are of particular importance to the delivery of safe and effective anesthesia. If necessary, blood tests and/or an EKG (heart rhythm analysis) may be ordered. After reviewing the procedure, your medical history, and any pertinent tests, Dr. Hussain will provide your dentist with his opinion on whether you are a candidate for intravenous or general anesthesia in the office setting or whether you would be better served having the procedure done in a hospital setting.
How can I help prepare my anxious child for his/her dental procedure?
Children have a natural fear of the unknown. Anxiety over an extensive dental procedure can turn an otherwise calm and cooperative child into a frightened and inconsolable patient. Anything you can do to relieve these anxieties will greatly improve your child’s experience. Like adults, children tolerate surgery and anesthesia better when they are well prepared. Reassure you child by explaining everything beforehand. Often times, allowing the child to bring along something familiar, such as a favorite blanket or toy, will help relieve their anxieties.
Most importantly, it is important not to transmit your own anxieties about the procedure to your child. Your composure as a parent is essential. Nothing calms a child more than a calm, confident parent.
Is intravenous sedation and general anesthesia safe?
Dr. Hussain continually strives to provide his patients with an unparalleled level of safety. In addition to his extensive training both as a dentist and as an anesthesiologist, he keeps abreast of the latest medical literature and regularly attends academic conferences so that he can provide his patients with the best possible care. He also has the most up-to-date, well-maintained and organized anesthesia equipment in the field. You can rest assured that Dr. Hussain will provide you with a safe, well conducted, hospital grade anesthesia experience in the comfort of your dentist’s office.
What will happen on the day of surgery?
Typically, you will be asked to arrive at your dentist’s office about 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. You will begin by filling a questionnaire asking you about your previous medical history, any current medical conditions, medications you currently take, allergies, and other health questions that may have an impact on your anesthetic care. Dr. Hussain will then conduct a focused physical exam followed by a thorough pre-anesthetic assessment. Based on this information, a decision will be made on the appropriateness of continuing with the proposed treatment plan.
How will I be monitored during surgery?
Dr. Hussain provides all necessary anesthesia monitoring equipment and medications. During your procedure, your vital signs (heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, temperature and the amount of oxygen in your blood) will be continuously monitored by. Dr. Hussain will be at your bedside monitoring you throughout the procedure and will follow you during your recovery up until the moment you are able to go home.
How should I prepare for surgery?
- Eating or Drinking: You will be asked to refrain from eating or drinking after midnight the night before surgery. This is to avoid the possibility of any food or other material remaining in the stomach being regurgitated into your lungs, which, if it occurs, can be very serious.
- Transportation: Since you will be unable to drive a vehicle for twenty-four hours after your surgery you should have a responsible adult available to pick you up and stay with you for that evening.
- Clothing: Please wear loose-fitting clothing to allow for easy attachment of medical monitoring devices. Children may be most comfortable in pajamas (do not dress them in a jumper). Anything you can do to relieve your child’s anxieties (e.g. a favorite blanket or toy) will greatly improve your child’s experience.
Dr. Hussain will review all these instructions with you over the phone prior to your procedure.
Will there be a breathing tube in my windpipe?
For many medical surgical procedures a breathing tube is introduced into the windpipe in order to help the patient breathe. This treatment modality is rarely needed in the dental office setting since the patient is spontaneously breathing throughout the procedure, but in some cases may be necessary.
What can I expect after surgery?
Patients often feel sleepy after the procedure and commonly rest through the remainder of the day in order to allow their body to recover. Occasionally, patients may also experience one or more of the following:
- Sore throat: The insertion of a breathing tube can frequently cause a sore throat. This by no means is a major complication but can be mildly annoying though it usually resolves quickly.
- Nosebleed: During surgery an airway through the nasal passage is frequently used, at times these may cause minor trauma and minimal bleeding. Occasionally patients may have very minimal bleeding from the nose upon awakening.
- Nausea and vomiting: Nausea and vomiting are commonly seen after many medical and surgical procedures. There are many medications available to combat this complication, but most importantly there are anesthetic techniques that are less frequently associated with nausea and vomiting. Dr. Hussain favors these techniques in order to provide his patients with an anesthetic experience that limits this uncomfortable complication. If you have had problems with nausea and vomiting after a previous surgery, please make a point of letting Dr. Hussain know, so that he can tailor the anesthetic technique to minimize this possibility.
What should I look for while choosing an anesthesiologist?
In choosing your provider for anesthesia you have most likely encountered numerous dental clinics that provide “sleep” dentistry. However, most often these clinics do not use an anesthesiologist, and administer nitrous oxide and/or oral medication to help you relax. These medications do not induce sleep. Technically “sleep” dentistry refers to a deep sedation or general anesthesia provided by licensed anesthesiologists. These forms of anesthesia allow the patient to sleep during the procedure and result in a safer, more comfortable and productive appointment. As with any other medical professional, when choosing your sedation dentist it is important to check their qualifications and credentials. Qualifications vary from a weekend certification in oral conscious sedation to a residency program requiring years of dedicated training leading to a general anesthesia permit. As expected, the knowledge and experience of a dentist anesthesiologist are unparalleled within the field of dentistry.