Patients routinely undergo everything from tooth extractions to implant placement and even the occasional corrective jaw surgery – with no pain and no memory of the procedure. This is all done right in the oral and maxillofacial surgeon’s office. Advanced office anesthesia techniques make it possible.
These techniques also make office anesthesia safe. In-office anesthesia is administered without incident thousands of times daily, and for healthy patients, is safer than anesthesia performed in a hospital setting.
This remarkable safety record is no accident. It’s the result of years of specialized training, state dental board regulation, office standards development, rigorous onsite inspection programs, and a team approach to managing anesthesia.
If you are going to do anesthesia in the office you obviously have to be well prepared. The preparation starts with residency training. During the additional four years of hospital training that dentists undergo to become oral and maxillofacial surgeons, four or more months are spent on the medical anesthesia service. No other medical specialists (except anesthesiologists) spend as much time training in anesthesiology. In addition, residents provide anesthesia services for adults and children throughout their four years of training.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons also complete certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, so they are prepared to assist a patient in the rare case when an anesthesia problem does occur.
Once in practice, oral surgeons must comply with extensive office anesthesia standards developed and constantly reviewed and updated by the AAOMS and state dental boards. These standards include using anesthesia monitoring equipment, such as a pulse oximeter to measure the amount of oxygen in the patient’s blood, and cardiac life support equipment.
Dr. Pitts works closely with his patients to ensure an appropriate level of sedation is achieved. In addition to local anesthetic (used to numb the specific surgery site), Dr. Pitts takes time to assess the procedure, patient’s level of anxiety, and overall health to determine the appropriate safe level of sedation necessary. Anesthetic choices range from mild intravenous sedation, in which the patient may still be aware of what is happening but doesn’t care; to deep intravenous sedation, where the patient is responsive but remembers almost nothing; to general anesthesia, in which the patient is totally unconscious during the procedure and remembers nothing. Even after general anesthesia, patients recover very quickly and go home shortly following the surgery.