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A child wonders what the first day of school will be like. Someone is about to start a new job or move to a new town. A young couple is about to be married.

Each of these situations is a classic anxiety producer. What they have in common is that each involves the unknown. And that's what anxiety is: the fear of a specific upcoming event that, in all likelihood, you've never before experienced.

The Less You Worry, the Easier it Will Be

Dr. Vaughan understands that an upcoming visit to an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon is another potential anxiety producer. Most of the time, patients are concerned about possible pain and whether the procedure is going to hurt.

The good news is that there are options available to you that make it possible to perform oral surgery with little or no discomfort. Knowing this should start to reduce your level of anxiety.

Extensive Training and Experience in the Control of Pain and Anxiety

Dr. Vaughan and his team pay very close attention to your safety, care and comfort. The ability to provide patients with safe, effective outpatient anesthesia has distinguished the specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery since its earliest days. Following dental school, Dr. Vaughan completed six years of training in a hospital-based surgical residency program and medical school. During this time, Dr. Vaughan completed training rotations on the medical anesthesiology service in both adult and children's hospitals. His training and experience make Dr. Vaughan proficient in evaluating patients for anesthesia, delivering the anesthetic and monitoring post-anesthetic patients.

The administration of anesthesia in the oral and maxillofacial surgery office has an enviable safety record. Insurance statistics indicate the frequency of office-related mortality and morbidity is one incident in 705,000 anesthetics administered over a 16-year period.

Putting Your Mind at Ease

The best way to reduce anxiety is to make certain you know what to expect during and after surgery. As with most anxiety-producing situations, the more you know, the less you have to be anxious about. Prior to surgery, Dr. Vaughan will review with you the type of anesthetic to be used, as well as the way you're likely to feel during and after the operation. This is the time to discuss any concerns you may have about any facet of your procedure.

Dr. Vaughan most commonly uses the following to help make your experience as comfortable as possible. The following represents general guidelines and can vary from patient to patient. On your consultation we will discuss the options available to you.

  1. Local Anesthesia: Good for patients with a very low level of anxiety, having an uncomplicated procedure. Dr. Vaughan makes every effort to administer local anesthetics, i.e. "Novocaine," in a slow, gentle and comfortable manner, thus eliminating most any pain that may accompany dental treatment. The duration of numbness after treatment varies from patient to patient. Generally the numbness wears off after 2 to 3 hours. You must be careful to watch out for chewing or biting your cheeks or tongue, which can become injured.
  2. Nitrous Oxide-Oxygen (Laughing Gas): Good for patients with mild anxiety having an uncomplicated procedure. Laughing gas is an inhaled agent that helps decrease anxiety. It is most often used with local anesthesia (please see above) and may be combined with an oral sedative like Valium. You are still awake and aware but more relaxed. Most patients describe a pleasant "light, tingling and floating" feeling.
  3. IV Sedation and IV General Anesthesia: Good for patients with moderate to high anxiety and/or having a more complex procedure. Patients describe feeling “very relaxed” (with sedation) to "asleep" (with general anesthesia.)
  4. Pediatric Anesthesia and Sedation: Dr. Vaughan and team recognize how important your child is to you and how stressful it can be to bring your child to a specialist's office. We want to provide you and your child with the most professional, current, and thorough care possible. Some children can comfortably have procedures with local anesthesia alone while some may require sedation. All pediatric patients are required to have a consultation prior to procedure. At this time we will address your concerns and discuss the options that may be best for your child.

Sedation Dentistry is most helpful for:

  • Patients who require major treatment
  • The very anxious patient
  • Patients that have had traumatic dental experiences
  • Patients with a strong gag reflex
  • Patients who are medically compromised or who are mentally handicapped

After surgery, you may be prescribed a medication to make you as comfortable as possible when you get home.

© 2006 American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS).