What should I know about dental anesthesia?
Most procedures don't actually require general anesthesia. However, this has been a very popular form of surgery since general anesthesia is less invasive when it comes to dentistry.
Dental anesthesia is very similar to medical anesthesia. The method used in dentistry will allow the patient to go completely unconscious and not feel pain during the surgery. With the use of anesthesia, this helps the patient lose fear and anxiety which can be found quite often in special needs patients.
What are analgesics?
Analgesics are a common drug that aids in the relief of a toothache or some form of oral pain after a dentistry treatment. You may know of some non-narcotic analgesics such aspirin and ibuprofen.
Narcotic analgesics, such as those containing codeine, act on the central nervous system to relieve pain. They are used for more severe pain.
What is local anesthesia?
There are two ways to administer local anesthesia. The first is topical and is typically applied with a swab to mouth tissue. This allows your dentist to numb the area to administer an injectable anesthetic or for very minor dental procedures. Other uses of topical anesthetics would be to minimize pain for mouth sores.
The second form is injectable local anesthesia. This is used for more severe cases and blocks the nerves in the sensitive area. This type of local anesthesia is used when filling cavities, crowning teeth, or the treatment of gum disease.
What is sedation and general anesthesia?
If a patient starts to experience a lot of anxiety, a sedative can help relax and calm the patient during a dental visit. The objective is to relax the patient, but they can typically still respond to speech and touch. In cases of severe surgery, bigger doses of sedation can take place to help the patient lose feeling and even consciousness in order to help minimize pain and anxiety. This can be a recommended method for children or adults who have a hard time controlling their movement.
Special care dentistry treats with general anesthesia on millions of patients every year. The ADA has provided a set of guidelines to help keep this procedure as safe as possible. However, there are always risks involved. You should always know your health status and let your dentist know of any medical conditions or current medications you are on.
Does anesthetic drugs cause or worsen autism?
There currently is no proof that anesthesia can worsen or even cause autism. A requirement by the ADA is that dental anesthesia has to be given by an experienced anesthesiologist. If an autistic child has serious medical problems, it can be unsafe to administer anesthesia. When all proper procedures have taken place and the dental sedation has been done by an experienced anesthesiologist, any major complications are extremely minimal.
Going under and waking up?
If you had a talk with your dentist and he recommended anesthesia, please keep in mind that the effects of this heavy sedation can take several hours to wear off. More often than not, a dentist will require that you have someone to give you a ride home after surgery is done where anesthesia has been used. If you don't have the ability to be picked up or taken home, the dentist will recommend you stay at the office to make sure you have complete recuperation from the anesthetic.
Is your dentist qualified to use general anesthesia?
There is special training involved when becoming authorized for a dentist to use general anesthesia. The type of schooling is beyond the standard dental degree. Completing the advanced education program from the CODA, will provide training in deep sedation and general anesthesia. Once qualified, that dentist then has the ability to use general anesthesia within their practice.
What should I know before choosing general anesthesia?
The biggest thing to realize is that general anesthesia does suppress cardiac and pulmonary functions. Good news is that with recent methods, there much safer outcomes for patients. Just be aware that there is always risk involved when it comes to sedation dentistry and general anesthesia. Please talk to your dentist or an anesthesiologist before choosing this option in order to determine if this is right for you.
When consulting with your dentist, always let them know your medical history and any current medications you are taken into account. The more you can disclose to your dentist, the better recommendations he can offer you.
Do autistic children require anesthesia for dental procedures?
Keeping an autistic child calm during a dental procedure can be quite difficult.  Having them enter an unfamiliar office, the noise of power tools, and dealing with new circumstances could trigger an adverse affect on them. Autistic patients face more oral hygiene problems due to irregular brushing and flossing routines.  Therefore, anesthesia maybe their best option to minimize stress and trauma.
Do patients with developmental disabilities have a higher risk of poor oral health?
Patients with developmental disabilities can have a higher risk of poor oral health as it can be more difficult to find a proper dentist to handle their needs. Proper diagnosis can be a challenge to many dental practitioners and the initial examination can prove to be difficult. Always look for a dentist who has some form of experience in treating special needs patients. Many people with developmental disabilities can be treated successfully with the proper dentistry.
What to do when visiting the dentist?
  • When you call for a dental appointment, ask for an appointment time when the child is most rested
  • Go at a time when the office is least crowded
  • Inform the dental office of your child's special needs
  • Describe any behavior problems
  • Take favorite toys, music or books
  • Daily brushing helps prepare the child for the dental visit

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