A dental anesthesiologist is a dental specialist who is trained in patient pain management. Dental anesthesiologists use both general and local anesthetics to make patients more comfortable during oral surgery and other potentially painful dental procedures.
Dental anesthesiologists must carefully monitor all patient vital signs and communicate the information to the dental surgeon when using general anesthetics. When the anesthetic is localized, the anesthesiologist must maintain communication with the patient and monitor their comfort levels throughout the procedure.
Most dental anesthesiologists work in offices within a dental practice. There are currently 1,333 dental anesthesiologists in the United States.
Becoming a dental anesthesiologist is similar to the requirements which must be met in order to become a dentist, but with an extra step. Like a dentist, a candidate must first obtain a bachelor's degree; successfully complete the Dental Acceptance test (DAT); complete a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) Degree, and successfully pass national and state licensing exams. However, a dental anesthesiologist candidate must also undergo a residency program that usually lasts two years.
A student may take the exam up to three times without special permission and a fourth time with special permission.
All states require dentists to be licensed but the licensing laws vary state to state. However, the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations developed the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE), which is a pass/fail exam that a candidate must pass in order to practice dentistry in any state.
The first year of residency usually involves a heavy focus on subjects like cardiology, surgical procedures, patient care, medical responsibilities, anesthesiology and intravenous sedation. After the first year, a candidate will usually continue to perform hospital and clinic rotations with a focus on anesthesia and other pain management techniques. Usually, prior to graduation, a residency program will require the candidate to deliver a lecture or conduct a research project.
Most dental anesthesiologists work with dentists in private practices. On average, dental anesthesiologists earn $275,743 annually with salaries ranging between $102,920 and $397,420.
How They Help People
As much as 12.3% of the general U.S. population has been reported to experience fear and anxiety over dental procedures. For this reason, coupled with the physical pain that may accompany various dental procedures, there is an increased need for sedation.
During dental and oral surgical procedures, a dental anesthesiologist may apply sedation in a variety of ways. One way is through local anesthesia, also known as Novocain, which is usually administered via injection and allows the patient to remain awake without feeling the pain of the procedure. The second way a dental anesthesiologist may administer sedation to a dental patient is by way of general anesthesia. General anesthesia is a drug-induced depression of a patient's consciousness during which patients cannot feel pain. General anesthesia is often administered intravenously.
A dental anesthesiologist may also provide sedation by way of nitrous oxide. Often used on children, nitrous oxide can ease mild to moderate anxiety by being inhaled by a patient. The dental anesthesiologist will mix the nitrous oxide with oxygen and deliver it through a small mask that covers the patient's nose. The patient usually remains awake during this type of sedation but may fall asleep if they become very relaxed.
Once the procedure is completed, the dental anesthesiologist will make sure that all vital signs and consciousness are back to normal levels prior to discharging the patient.
Dental Anesthesiologists and Medical Malpractice
Examples of malpractice claims that may be brought against a dental anesthesiologist include:
- Lack of consent for the procedure
- Poorly conducted pre-anesthesia exam
- Poor pre-anesthesia care
- Poor positioning of the patient during the procedure
- Improper maintenance of patient airways during the procedure
- Improper monitoring of patient vital signs
- Improper dosage of anesthesia
If a dental anesthesiologist has committed any of the aforementioned errors, the patient may be entitled to sue for damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses, lost wages, and disability, depending on the circumstances of the injury.
Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered a negligent injury from a dental anesthesiologist, call the attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian today at (800) 529-6162. You have the right to expect medical professionals to operate within the required standard of care. If you suspect that your dental anesthesiologist acted negligently, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian can evaluate your case to determine whether you have a claim against a dental anesthesiologist.