Demand for dentist anesthesiologists in pediatric dental practices is on the rise

March 29, 2012

Issue 3

According to surveys conducted by the journal Anesthesia Progress, the need for sedation in pediatric dental practices comes from high percentages of dental anxiety associated with this age group.

According to surveys conducted by the journal Anesthesia Progress, the need for sedation in pediatric dental practices comes from high percentages of dental anxiety associated with this age group.

The demand for dentist anesthesiologists in pediatric dental practices is on the rise. More than 70 percent of board-certified pediatric dentists in the United States provide mild to moderate sedation in their practices. Nearly that many, 60 to 70 percent, would use a dentist anesthesiologist if one were available. However, supply cannot yet meet the demand.

The current issue of the journal Anesthesia Progress reports on two congruent surveys, one of board-certified pediatric dentists and one of directors of pediatric dentistry and dental anesthesiology training programs. These surveys explore models of office-based dental sedation and future needs for deep sedation and general anesthesia services in pediatric dentistry.

As much as 12.3 percent of the general U.S. population has been reported to experience dental fear and anxiety. Among junior high and secondary school students, about 18 percent reported moderate dental fear. This is one of the reasons behind the increased need for sedation in dental practices.

Extensive treatment needs, anxiety, uncooperative but age-appropriate behavior, and limited cognitive functioning are among causes that require deep sedation or general anesthesia for young dental patients. Two-thirds of pediatric dentistry residency directors anticipate this need for dental anesthesiology services to increase in coming years. Among dental anesthesiology program directors, 88 percent report increased requests for anesthesiology services by pediatric dentists over the past 10 years.

The addition of a dentist anesthesiologist to a pediatric dental office team can provide depth and scope to a practice, enabling it to offer office-based sedation and anesthesia services. The number of dentist anesthetists currently practicing in the United States is relatively small, though. Considering the future need for these services in the pediatric setting, dental anesthesiology residencies are seeing cases involving young children and those with special health care needs.

Source: Newswise