New dental sedative delivers natural sleep

Sept. 16, 2008
Dexmedetomidine may now be appropriate for use by anesthesia-trained professionals at your local dentist's office, study indicates.

It may be possible to sleep blissfully through your next root canal.

A new study in Anesthesia Progress shows that intravenous Dexmedetomidine (Dex), which has previously been used as a sedative in intensive care units, may now be appropriate for use by anesthesia-trained professionals at your local dentist's office.

Unlike other anesthetics, Dex produces a state similar to natural sleep. It takes effect quickly, sedative levels are easily manipulated, circulation and respiration are only minimally altered, and patients are easily brought to consciousness after the procedure.

Results show that low doses of Dex produce effective sedation, even though patients are easily reawakened after dosing is discontinued. Patients responded to the sedative within 10 minutes of the start of the infusion and regained orientation within 15 minutes after its discontinuation, with full equilibrium restored in 60 minutes (as measured by standing on one leg with eyes closed).

According to the bispectral index, which measures sedative state, patients remained in a sedative state even when they appeared to be clearly conscious. Thus, discontinuing the Dex infusion approximately 15 minutes before the end of the procedure is recommended to minimize recovery time.

It should also be noted that patients in this study were relatively young and healthy; higher doses and differences in age and health may affect the performance of Dex.

Dex may also have benefits for patients with heart disease or high blood pressure. In the study, Dex produced a small, but significant, decrease in mean arterial blood pressure during the procedure (from 85 mm Hg to 77 mm Hg). In contrast, most local anesthetics used in dentistry contain epinephrine that tend to increase blood pressure temporarily.

To read the entire study, go to study.

For more information, visit American Dental Society of Anesthesiology.

To read more about the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology, go to American Dental Society of Anesthesiology.

To comment on this topic, go to PennWell Dental Community site.