Many simple oral surgery procedures can be performed with local anesthesia (numbing injections) alone, as with other types of dental and medical treatments. If the local anesthesia works properly, the patient is aware of the sensations of pressure and vibration, but has no pain.
At times, local anesthesia alone is insufficient to assure patient comfort during treatment. Reasons for this include the presence of infection, a history of having difficulty getting completely numb, general discomfort, apprehension or anxiety regarding treatment, the length or technical difficulty of the procedure, and medical conditions that will not allow the use of local anesthetic alone. In order to produce a reasonable treatment experience in these situations, additional anesthesia techniques may be warranted.
The simplest of these is the use of Nitrous Oxide, also known as ”Laughing Gas”. Nitrous Oxide is breathed in through a nasal mask during the procedure and helps alleviate anxiety and decreases the perception of discomfort. Its use requires no special preparation and once the procedure is complete, breathing 100 % oxygen reverses the effect. Nitrous Oxide is particularly helpful in the treatment of children with mild treatment-related anxiety.
IV sedation is a procedure whereby the patient is given sedating medication through an intravenous line. The patient can be conscious or asleep depending on the treatment, the medical conditions involved and the length of the procedure. All sedation patients are fully monitored with respect to heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, oxygenation and respiratory carbon dioxide, as though they were in a hospital operating room. If the procedure is relatively short and uncomplicated, the oral surgeon administers the sedating medication and performs the procedure.
If the treatment required is lengthy, the patient is a small child or an aged person with medical problems, or the patient so desires, a board certified medical anesthesiologist manages the anesthetic portion of the treatment as would be done in a hospital. Our group has worked with Mission Anesthesia Consultants at Mission Hospital for many years. These highly trained medical colleagues support our efforts to provide comprehensive care to our patients.