Oral Surgery/Propofol


I was reading one of your replies to someone where you said that propofol is used often because patients can breath on their own which makes it utilized much easier.. But I am curious about why Propofol has a red box warning saying to use or have on hand artificial breathing machine or intubation capabilities because it causes respiratory depression? It can very easily cause respiratory depression no?

Alexander - That is a very good question.  Like many other sedative medications or anesthetic medications different people respond differently.  A small amount of propofol used for a deep sedation in most oral surgery patients respond very well with comfort during the procedure and not aware of the treatment.  Some patients for that same amount will not become sedated and additional medication or an additional medication is combined to produce anesthesia.  Likewise, there are people who are very sensative to small doses of sedative or anesthetic medications.  Because of that doctors do not take a chance and always place an oxygen supplement attachment to the patient while they are asleep.  Depending on the type of surgery and the length of time of the surgery, some patients will need assisted breathing via intubation and/or artificial breathing machines.  The patients who are overly sensative to the sedative or anesthetic medication may need the respiratory assistance of the intubation or breathing machine to facilitate adequate respiration.  

So as a "belt and suspender" approach, quality surgeons who sedate or used anesthesia with their patients need the equipment necessary to provide assisted respiration.  That is why all oral and maxillofacial surgeons need the ability to intubate and use assisted breathing machines.  If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me again.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor at State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA- University of Connecticut DMD-University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency - Roosevelt Hospital, NYC

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