Features  |   August 2013
Anesthesia and Dentistry: Improving Patient Safety Through Education
Author Affiliations
  • Andrew Herlich, D.M.D., M.D., FAAP
    Committee on Ambulatory Surgical Care ASA Liaison to the ADA, AAOMS, ADSA, ASDA
Article Information
Airway Management / Pain Medicine / Patient Safety / Features
Features   |   August 2013
Anesthesia and Dentistry: Improving Patient Safety Through Education
ASA Monitor 08 2013, Vol.77, 22-24.
ASA Monitor 08 2013, Vol.77, 22-24.
Since Horace Wells’ early use of nitrous oxide analgesia in the 1840s, the dental profession has been at the forefront of the delivery of anesthesia for the relief of anxiety and pain control for patients undergoing dental treatment. Today, effective training of anesthesia and pain control for dental patients have been carefully codified by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.1  Under the auspices of numerous dental schools, undergraduate and continuing education programs are administered for basic airway management and enteral sedation as well as parenteral mild to moderate sedation. Nitrous oxide analgesia courses are popular in both the undergraduate and postgraduate setting. Deep sedation and general anesthesia techniques are part of the comprehensive training programs for oral and maxillofacial surgeons and dentists who desire the concentration of their practice on anesthesia and pain control. Frequently, these dental practitioners will sedate or anesthetize patients in office-based, dental clinic-based or other ambulatory settings. Special-needs patients who require routine dental care are frequently sedated or undergo general anesthesia in the ambulatory or office-based environment. Treating these patients requires special attention to the details of transitioning the patient from the transport vehicle through recovery. Skills in basic and advanced life support are usually requisites for attending courses in analgesia, anxiety and pain control. Despite the rare adverse outcome, dentists have an enviable record of patient safety with respect to anesthesia and pain control.2,3 
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