Dr. Dillon Atwood is one of the few dentist anesthesiologists in North Carolina. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Anesthesiology. He studied at Davidson College and attended the UNC School of Dentistry before completing his post graduate training in anesthesiology at the Lutheran Medical Center in New York City. He works through his mobile anesthesia practice, North State Anesthesiology to provide in office general anesthesia and sedation services around North Carolina.
In this episode we discuss:
- When is the right time to schedule an anesthesiologist
- The procedure and reasons for sedating a patient
- Treating special needs patients in an more efficient and profitable way.
How do you design an anesthesia program for a patient?
It depends what the goal is. In dentistry, just like in medicine, there are a lot of goals that we use anesthesia to achieve. So when someone approaches me and they want to sedate a patient it just opens up a conversation about what they want to do. Many times the patient has anxiety and the goal for dentists and the patient is to overcome that anxiety so that the patient can get in the chair and be comfortable through the procedure. Anesthesia can help us with pain control, it can also be used to provide amnesia for patients. We can do that with minimal, moderate, or general anesthetics. We can also use it for reflex control. Patients with seizure disorders or spasticity disorder, CP patients that move, or Parkinsons patients that move. There are lots of patients with these muscular reflexes that have to be controlled for dentistry to be rendered effectively. We can control and relax these patients very well using different levels of anesthesia.
How does your mobile practice differ from a hospital?
When I come into a practice, I bring the equipment that they would normally have in a hospital. I bring an anesthesia machine with a mechanically driven ventilator and volatile anesthetics that a patient can breath. I bring all the airway equipment and the emergency airway equipment that would be available in a hospital along with all the medications needed to put a patient to sleep and wake them up again. I show up about and hour in advance and set all this gear up in a doctors office
How would I schedule or arrange such a procedure? What should the dentist be thinking about?
It’s very simple. Doctors who think that they need more anesthesia than they can provide is necessary for the patient, they give me a call and we set up an appointment. Once it is scheduled, I ask for a little bit of information about the patient and then I will talk to the patient. I talk to them about their health history and about what they think they will need. I then get the treatment plan from the dentist and I will hear from them their experience with the patient and the problems they have had treating this patient. With this information, I can come up with an anesthetic plan that will be catered to the patients health history and and the doctors need for the treatment plan.
What kind of warning signs should the dentist be aware of before scheduling this procedure?
One of the most important things for providing anesthesia in an office is to get patients expectations in line with what we can do for them. This needs to be done by the dentist and by me. Dentist who provide sedation in their office often run into problems because that which they can provide for the patient, and what that patient thinks they are being provided are very different things. So patients expect to be out, and not to have to participate an the only way to do those things is to provide a general anesthetic. Once the doctor and the patient understand that minimal and moderate sedation are not general anesthetics, then they will be able to ask, “Is a general anesthetic is really what they need.” I have similar conversations when I talk to patients.
What do you want dentists to know about dental anesthesiology?
One of the thing that we learn in dental school, is that 50% of the patients don’t go to the dentist. Everybody speculates to why that is. Many times we cite anxiety as being why people don’t come to the dentist. One of the things that I hope anesthesia can do for folks and their practices, is to bring patients in that are not receiving dental care right now because of their anxiety and the bad experiences they have had, or because of their fear of pain and of longevity of procedures or sounds. What ever it is, we can provide an anesthetic in an office that takes that away from the patient, so that they can have a positive experience.
Another goal of mine is to help dentists see the sorts of patients, the special needs patients that they all want to treat but sometimes are not practical to see. I hope anesthesia will help those who want to see these patients in a more efficient and profitable manner.
If a dentist wants to connect with you, what information do you need from them and what information do they need from you? How does the conversation start, and where does it go?
First I want to know what the Dentist wants. What their expectations are, what kind of patients they have, and what sort of treatment they tend to do. I like to meet with them in person and I like to see their practice. What we are looking for is that they have access to oxygen, that they have adequate entrances and exits to get emergency personnel in and out if necessary. And also to see if their operatories are large enough to render whatever sort of anesthesia plan to render. Then it is important to know the training of the doctors staff.
How can we connect with you:
Practice: North State Anesthesiology
Phone: 336 939 6277
**If you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Passionate Dentist Podcast, please subscribe and leave us a review over on iTunes
to help spread the word about the show. Thank you!**