Should I Put My Child Under For Dental Work

Using general anesthesia for children that can be nerve-racking for anyone! Anesthesia can be beneficial in allowing children to receive necessary dental work that otherwise may cause anxiety and your child. Your pediatric dentist will only recommend a general anesthesia if it is necessary. It will allow your child to sleep through the entire procedure and have no memory of it which can be helpful to establishing a trusting and confident bond between your child and their Pediatric Dentist. As with general anesthesia for adults, there will be special rules for eating and drinking before the procedure and your child will have some restrictions after the procedure.

How does general anesthesia work?

Before Anesthesia

Before your child receives general anesthesia, you will receive a phone call from a scheduling nurse at which point they will give you specific instructions for your child to follow regarding eating and drinking. For infants under 12 months, formula fed babies may be given formula up to six hours before their scheduled arrival time. Breast-fed babies may nurse up to four hours before their scheduled arrival time.

For children over the age of one, they may not have any solid food or non-clear liquids after midnight the evening before the procedure. This includes milk, formula, juices with pulp, chewing gum, or candy. For up to two hours before the scheduled arrival time, your child may have only clear liquids which include water, Pedialyte, Kool-Aid, or any juice you can see through.

No matter your child's age, it is important for you to follow the specific instructions provided to you. If your child takes a daily medication, you may give it to them unless specifically told not to do so by their doctor or the nurse. You may also consider bringing a comfort item from home for your child to hold during their anesthesia administration.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia makes your child's entire body go to sleep and can be beneficial for certain dental procedures and treatments to allow their reflexes to be completely relaxed. During the procedure, your child will feel no pain nor will they have any memory of it. A Pediatric Anesthesiologist is a doctor who specializes in anesthesia for children and will be the professional giving your child the medication and monitoring their condition during the procedure.

The anesthesiologist will meet with you to review your child's medical history to determine what type of medication should be given. When they are taken to the operating room, nitrous oxide will be administered to help your child relax and will make them fall asleep. Once they are asleep, an intravenous sedation will be started to keep them asleep during the procedure. You will be able to stay with your child until they have completely fallen asleep.

After Anesthesia

Once your child’s dental procedure is completed, they will be taken to a recovery room where nurses will Monitor their vital signs as they recover. The effects of general anesthesia can last for many hours and your child's throat may remain sore for even 1 to 2 days afterwards. Depending on the procedure they had, your child's gums and mouth may be sore for several days. It is important that you only give your child soft food for the first few hours after anesthesia to make sure they are not dizzy and do not become nauseated.

Children with special needs or those with other health issues may greatly benefit from general anesthesia for dental work. Your Pediatric Dentist will help you determine the best route of treatment for your child and their individual needs.

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