If your child needs to undergo extensive dental work, your dentist might recommend placing your child under general anesthesia. This can help your child sit longer, ensuring the work can be completed. But, there are several things you should know before agreeing to it.
Why would my dentist recommend general anesthesia?
One of the main reasons a pediatric dentist may recommend general anesthesia is to keep your child from being anxious, and because there will be no pain involved while completing the procedures. Although this is not the norm, it is particularly beneficial in the event of lengthy procedures where extensive work is needed, to lessen anxiety in an overly fearful child, and it is often suggested for children of special needs.
Typically, a dentist will recommend general anesthesia due to the young age of a patient, high anxiety, or the amount of treatment required. Treatment performed under general anesthesia allows for a pain-free and atraumatic dental visit, and can allow for all the required treatment to be performed in just one visit.
Should general anesthesia be performed in hospitals or at an out-patient facility under the watch of an anesthesiologist?
If your child needs extensive dental work, such as crowns, caps, a root canal or multiple fillings, it’s not uncommon for your dentist to recommend placing your child under general anesthesia to ensure the procedures can be done quickly and effectively. General anesthesia can be performed in a dental office, if the dentist has the correct set-up. While some offices can offer general anesthesia, some may not and will require the procedures to be performed in a hospital or out-patient facility.
Is there any risk associated with general anesthesia and what are the side affects?
As with any medication, certain risks apply, but this procedure is generally safe. Most side-effects are temporary and some children may experience a sore throat, confusion, lethargy, headache, and nausea that should completely go away in a few hours to a few days. Although some serious complications are possible, it’s very rare.
What are the disadvantages of general anesthesia?
Although the advantages of general anesthesia far outweigh the disadvantages, the biggest concern is the assistance of respiratory and cardiovascular function. Another disadvantage of general anesthesia is that hospitalization or an out-patient facility may be required for surgery where an anesthesiologist will administer and monitor the anesthesia while the pediatric dentist can perform extensive dental work in one visit.
Are any tests required before having elective general anesthesia?
In most cases, there will not be any tests required. However, if a child has a significant medical condition, lab tests or additional evaluations by the child’s physician may be required.
Can you explain the differences between general anesthesia, and the types of sedation?
- Minimal sedation is a drug induced state that allows patients to respond normally to verbal commands. It will relieve apprehension, without causing impairment to major functions of the body.
- Conscious, or moderate, sedation is a drug induced depression of consciousness that allows a patient to purposefully respond to verbal commands. The purpose is to help the patient relax and avoid pain. The medicine wears off rather quickly, so it is used for shorter, less complex treatments.
- Deep sedation is a depression of consciousness during which the patient cannot be arouse. The patient will respond purposefully following repeated or painful stimuli, and may require assistance in maintaining a patent airway.
- General anesthesia is the drug-induced loss of consciousness during which patients are not able to be aroused, even by painful stimuli. Patient typically require assistance in maintaining a patent airway and cardiovascular function may be impaired.
Is deep sedation the same as the general anesthesia?
No. Deep sedation, or deep anesthetic, will generally not require assisted breathing or cardiovascular assistance as with that of general anesthesia.
If you have any further questions that are not addressed here, please be sure to ask a qualified pediatric dentist like Dr. Nanna at Polkadot Pediatric in Alpharetta.