Anaesthesia in dentistry varies widely

A wide variation has been found in the training for and practice of sedation and general anaesthesia within the dental profession in the US.
A survey – designed to be a snapshot of common practices – suggests this face and an article in the journal, Anesthesia Progress, reports the results of a survey of 717 providers.
The questionnaire-based survey, conducted from April-December 2008, investigated training, practice characteristics, and anaesthesia techniques of dental care providers.

A universal instructional standard for sedation and general anaesthesia is lacking in the training requirements of US dental boards, although similarities do exist.
Most commonly, training was through oral surgery residencies.
Overall, respondents reported that 33% of their postgraduate instruction was hospital-based.

35% of dental anaesthesia assistants were without formal training, closely followed by 33.5% who received training through an American Association of Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons programme.
A much lower 7.3% were trained through an American Dental Society of Anesthesiology programme.

Other aspects of the survey included types of patients and procedures for which sedation or general anaesthesia were used.
The questionnaire also asked which medication agents were most commonly used and how they were administered.
Post-anaesthesia care was most commonly found to be given by the actual provider (51.7% of cases), but a nurse or assistant often provided recovery care as well (45%).

Most survey respondents – nearly 82% – were both dentist and anaesthetist for their practice, a long-established tradition.
However, the authors note that recent state regulations as well as anaesthesia education in US dental schools are now limiting this method of practice.
For abstracts of this study and others, click here.

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