The Necessity for Advanced Anesthesia Services for Dental Care
Two Connecticut dentists, Horace Wells and William Morton, introduced general anesthesia to dentistry and medicine nearly 200 years ago.
The Connecticut dentists used nitrous oxide and then ether to control the pain of a tooth extraction and eventually surgery. Ever since that time, general anesthesia has been an inseparable part of dental and medical practices, allowing millions of patients to undergo pain-free surgical care.
Today, dentist anesthesiologists offer a full spectrum of safe and comfortable anesthesia services in their own office or for patients in their dentist's office.
The American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists recognizes that most, but not all dental procedural pain can be managed with local anesthesia. We applaud the increased use of minimal and moderate sedation for common dental procedures provided by properly trained dentists who practice in accordance with the American Dental Association Guidelines for Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists.
The ASDA also recognizes the need for deep sedation and general anesthesia to manage pain and anxiety in patients for whom local anesthesia and lighter levels of sedation are ineffective or inappropriate. This is especially relevant for pre-cooperative or uncooperative children, developmentally delayed, autistic and physically challenged patients as well as for the elderly with cognitive deficits.
The decision to use general anesthesia for a particular dental procedure should only be determined by considering the needs of the patient, the requirements of the operating dentist, the effect on the quality of the dental treatment and the availability of appropriately trained anesthesia providers.
The safety record of advanced anesthesia services provided by dentist anesthesiologists is unsurpassed in today’s healthcare industry. No patient should be denied access to quality dental care for lack of adequate control of pain and anxiety.
About the ASDA
The American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists (ASDA) comprises dentists who have completed a minimum two years of full-time postdoctoral training in dental anesthesiology.
Our clinical training includes a significant portion devoted to hospital operating room anesthesiology rotations as well as ambulatory anesthesia for dental patients.
These and other clinical experiences, such as emergency medicine, cardiology, and acute and chronic pain management, are complemented by didactic lectures and seminars to develop highly competent practitioners who can carefully evaluate a dental patient to determine and deliver the appropriate sedation or general anesthetic that is needed, and safely manage complications that may arise.
Most dentist anesthesiologists limit their practice to providing anesthesia services for other dentists who perform the necessary dental care.
The dentist anesthesiologist who works in a single office or in the offices of other dentists provides all the necessary equipment, medications, and sophisticated monitors to ensure an unsurpassed margin of safety in the care of the ambulatory dental patient.
The dentist anesthesiologist provides a safe, relaxed atmosphere for the patient and the operating dentist and decreases the likelihood that the dentist will have to tell the patient (or parent), "I'm sorry, but we are just not equipped to handle a patient with your (child's) special needs."
Dentist anesthesiologists are also involved in: (1) teaching pain and anxiety control in dental schools to dental students and residents in various specialty programs; (2) providing continuing education courses in minimal and moderate sedation, pharmacology, and medical emergencies; (3) managing complex chronic pain conditions of the head and neck region; and (4) conducting research related to anesthesiology in dentistry.
In consideration of the discovery of anesthesia by dentists, the continuing contribution to the art and science of anesthesia by dentists, and the continuing requirements for and provision of anesthesia care by dentists, this Society has established as its purpose to support and encourage the clinical practice of anesthesia by dentists, and to promote the acquisition and dissemination of scientific knowledge associated therewith.
- To make available to dental patients the full spectrum of anesthesia care.
- To train dentists in the full spectrum of anesthesia care.
- The development and support of a recognized specialty of anesthesiology in the dental profession.
- The establishment of an anesthesiology department in dental schools
The ASDA’s Policy on Anesthesia for Dentistry. The ASDA strongly believes that anesthesiology should not be regarded by any specialty or interest group as "their turf" but rather that it is a gift provided to the entire profession by our predecessors. We have the responsibility to use it wisely and to pass it on to future generations of dentists. We believe that the specialty of dental anesthesiology will forever secure anesthesia as an integral part of the entire profession of dentistry.
In support of this philosophy, we endorse the following
- The ADA's Policy Statement on the use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by dentists recognizing the right of qualified dentists, as defined by the ADA, to provide sedation and general anesthesia.
- The report of the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference on Anesthesia and Sedation in the Dental office.
- The right of all ADA-approved specialty and other training programs to establish, devise, and direct their own curricula in pain and anxiety control in accordance with ADA policy.
- The right of all ADA-approved specialties, the Academy of General Dentistry, and other dental organizations to set practice guidelines and standards in anesthesia pertaining to their own areas of interest.