Is Your Dentist Qualified to Use General Anesthesia?
General anesthesia is safely used far and wide in dentistry. Dentists who are authorized to use this type of anesthesia must go through special training. Those courses that are required to complete most standard dental degrees do not include the type of training necessary to administer general anesthesia. Doctors who are green-lighted to use general anesthesia in their practice undergo schooling beyond the standard realm of even predoctoral study.
Only dentists who have completed an advanced education program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), which provides training in deep sedation and general anesthesia, are deemed educationally qualified to use general anesthesia in practice. Additionally, the American Dental Association strongly supports continuing education for this group of highly trained dentists.
What You Should Know Before Choosing General Anesthesia
Even without paralyzing agents, general anesthesia (all forms of anesthesia, actually) do carry the peril of suppressing cardiac and pulmonary function. However, more recent methods favor a safe outcome for the vast majority of patients. Simply, as with all medications and dental and medical procedures, the use of general anesthesia likewise requires some risk. It's important that if you're a patient undergoing a surgical procedure -- dental or medical -- you discuss the use of this type of anesthesia in detail with your doctor.
Make sure you fully disclose your medical history and give your dentist a complete list of any medications (prescription and over-the-counter) that you're currently taking -- mention, too, any medication allergies you have and disclose all medical conditions that apply to you.
Ultimately, it's the responsibility of your dentist to provide complete and detailed information about the use of general anesthesia and disclose any associated risks, but being proactive with all health care providers who you work with is always a good practice.
The chances of suffering serious side effects from general anesthesia remain low. First and foremost, get the facts: Weigh your options thoroughly, as the peace of mind that comes with doing your "homework" will undoubtedly have a positive effect on your perception of the procedure. And, depending on your beliefs about a mind-body connection, a little legwork ahead of time may even bolster your already fantastic odds of a problem-free procedure all around.
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