A pulse oximeter is a device that attaches to your finger while you are sedated and tells me how much oxygen is in your blood stream. Knowing this number is critical for safety. Many patients have all types of dental work done while they are “knocked out.” For many patients I see, fear is a big factor in avoiding basic care such as dental implants, crowns, fillings or even cleanings.
During sedation, the advanced device shines light through your finger, detecting the color of the blood. Since blood changes color based on how oxygenated it is, the oxygen saturation can be calculated. It measures how much oxygen is in your blood at any given moment. Blood carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body through arteries and the blood then returns through veins.
Having enough oxygen during sleep dentistry or surgery will keep you safe. Along with specialty monitors that I use, your neck position is critical to maintaining good airflow to your lungs. Knowing how to position your neck and jaw during sleep sedation dentistry is as important as state of the art monitors.
Along with your “SPO2” reading, a pulse oximeter also gives your pulse rate.
People always want to know what their oxygen saturation "should be". A fit, healthy young person will probably have an oxygen saturation of 95 – 99%. This will vary with age, degree of fitness, current altitude and whether you smoke.
Traditional doctors have used pulse oximeters to monitor various health related conditions including COPD, asthma, and sleep apnea just to name a few.
If you are scared of the dentist or just want to know more info, please leave your questions in the comments section below.
Ramsey A. Amin, D.D.S.
Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology /Implant Dentistry
Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry