Dentistry research team working to advance innovation in sedation methods

3 April 2023

The University of Alberta School of Dentistry’s sedation research team, led by Douglas Lobb and Hollis Lai, has completed and published their third study on the advancement of intravenous dental sedation. 

The first study investigated the current standard of care, which involves midazolam and fentanyl administered through hand-bolus injection. The next two studies — including this most recent — have focused on the use of propofol and remifentanil, administered and controlled by smart infusion pumps driven by artificial intelligence software.

The use of these pumps results in stable drug levels and rapid recovery time, allowing for easy administration and titration control. Smart syringe pumps, such as target controlled infusion pumps, are approved for use in dentistry across all provinces and territories in Canada, as long as appropriate regulatory requirements, protocols and guidelines are followed.

The College of Dental Surgeons of Alberta and Alberta Health have not yet examined the feasibility of this technique, and dental practices in Alberta continue to use an outdated method.

To advance innovation in dental practices in Alberta and provide proof of concept for regulatory bodies, the Alberta Dental Society of Anesthesiology has proposed a pilot project with up to six experienced dental sedation offices to offer intravenous sedation using propofol and remifentanil. The first step in the approval process is a collaborative meeting chaired by the Ministry of Alberta Health, which includes the College of Dental Surgeons of Alberta, the Alberta Dental Society of Anesthesiology and invited sedation experts.

This pilot project is supported by competency-based training, education and appropriate oversight.