It is very normal to have concerns regarding the safety of anesthesia in young children.
We take the safety of your child's anesthetic appointment very seriously.
Anesthesia medications and monitoring have improved over the years, and we take every precaution to make sure that your child is comfortable and safe.
The anesthesiologist will be with your child throughout the anesthetic, and your child will be monitored constantly.
Current evidence is that one general anesthesia appointment is not harmful to the child, and that delaying surgery or treatment carries it's own risks.
If your child is very young or has significant health problems, we will refer the child to a hospital operating room for their dental treatment.
Healthy children who have followed the preoperative instructions do quite well, with very infrequent complications such as nausea or bleeding.
Therefore it is important to take the appropriate precautions, such as following the eating and drinking instructions, notifying the office if the child has been ill. As well, informing the office if there have been any changes to the child's health.
What are the side effects?
Serious side effects and complications after anesthesia are rare, but your child may be drowsy for several hours afterward.
Plan on being with your child at home for the rest of the day.
Nausea is unlikely but occurs occasionally.
Minor bleeding or oozing may occur after dental treatment, but should stop after 24 hours.
Your child may be sore for 1 to 2 days, and your providers will likely recommend over-the-counter Children's or liquid Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen, Motrin) for home.
They are just baby teeth and will fall out - why risk sedation?
While many of the teeth on your child's treatments plan may be baby teeth, some of these baby teeth (especially the back molars) can remain in your child's mouth until he or she is 12 years old.
Leaving caries untreated will allow the decay process to progress and worsen. Untreated cavities lead to significant pain and infection that can pose serious consequences for your child.
If your child is older and the cavities are smaller, it may be okay to leave some cavities on baby teeth untreated. However, cavities of a significant size on baby teeth that are expected to remain in the mouth for over 1 year are often better treated by your dentist.
Leaving these cavities could expose your child to prolonged pain and infection.
If you have questions about these options for your child's cavities, please ask us and we can review the pros and cons of different treatment approaches.
What safety precautions do you take during the procedure?
Your anesthesiologist will be with your child throughout the anesthetic procedure, to make sure that your child is both comfortable and safe under sedation or general anesthesia.
Your child will be monitored with same kinds of monitors used in the hospital operating room, including monitors for vital signs and for breathing.
Your child will have an IV, in order to give medications to maintain anesthesia and for pain and nausea, as well as for emergency medications if needed.
If necessary, emergency equipment and medications used to treat and stabilize the patient are immediately available in the treatment room.
If a very serious reaction or emergency should occur that requires hospital treatment, the patient will be transported to the nearest appropriate hospital.
What should I expect after dental treatment under anesthesia? How will I know if there is a problem and what should I do?
After the treatment is completed and your child is waking up, you will be brought back to be with your son or daughter.
Post-operative instructions and expectations will be discussed with you, and your child will not be discharged to go home until safe to do so.
Generally, expect your child to rest at home with you for several hours.
To prevent nausea, it is better to wait until after their rest before drinking and eating. It is best to stay with soft, cool foods like applesauce and yogurt.
Your child will likely need Children's or liquid Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen, Motrin) later for discomfort
Why can my child have nothing to eat or drink after midnight?
Following these instructions are the most important part for your child's safety.
Anesthesia can cause relaxation, such that stomach contents may exit the stomach and enter the lungs, injuring the lungs.
If the child's stomach is empty, then it is unlikely that stomach contents will cause serious injury to the lungs.
Since it takes many hours for food and drink (including water) to pass beyond the stomach after being swallowed and digested, the child must not eat or drink during those hours before his or her appointment, to ensure that the stomach remains empty.
Serious complications after anesthesia are rare. If your child is having difficulty breathing, then emergency 911 should be contacted immediately. For other issues (nausea, high fever, rash), call the clinic or anesthesiologist.