Children and General Anesthesia – FAQs

child going under general anesthesia

ALPHARETTA, GA – 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 a smooth procedure for both of them. But there are several things you should know before agreeing to it.

Who can benefit from sedation methods in pediatric dentistry?

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 your dentist to perform all the required treatment in just one session.

For some children, it is just impossible to stay still in a chair for what can feel like an eternity when they aren’t doing anything but looking at the ceiling, coupled with the natural reactions of a child feeling their teeth and mouth being pulled or a sensible gag reflex and you’ve got yourself a very bumpy dental intervention. To make the procedure go as smooth as possible, your dentist may recommend sedation.

Which treatments require sedation?

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 are quickly and effectively done.

How to prepare your child for sedation

The first thing you need to do to prepare yourself and your child for sedation is to be properly informed. Talk to your dentist before the day of the sedation so that you can understand what’s the process they are going to perform, why it is necessary to sedate the child, who will the staff consists off, and what equipment they will have on-site.

As for the preparations, the child must avoid eating at least 8 hours before the scheduled procedure. This includes all foods and drinks that are not clear liquids. If they have any type of prescription not related to the process, be sure to talk to the dentist about it a few days before the appointment.

Should general anesthesia be performed in hospitals or at an out-patient facility under the watch of an anesthesiologist?

Dentists can perform general anesthesia in a dental office if they have the correct setup. While some offices can offer general anesthesia, some may not. They will perform the required procedures in a hospital or outpatient facility.

Is there any risk associated with general anesthesia, and what are the side effects?

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 the patient may require hospitalization or an out-patient facility 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, your dentist may require lab tests or additional evaluations by the child’s physician.

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 specialists use it for shorter, less complex treatments.
  • Deep sedation is a depression of consciousness during which the patient cannot be aroused. 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. Patients typically require assistance in maintaining a patent airway, and they could have their cardiovascular function impaired.

Is deep sedation the same as general anesthesia?

No. Deep sedation, or deep anesthetic, will generally not require assisted breathing or cardiovascular assistance, as with it’s the case with general anesthesia.

If you have any further questions, please be sure to ask a qualified Pediatric Dentist in Roswell like Dr. Nanna at Polkadot Pediatric in Alpharetta.

© 2018 Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry, an Alpharetta, Johns Creek, and Roswell dentist, is credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

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