Generally, children are only considered for treatment in the OR under general anesthesia if the child requires extensive dental treatment (i.e., multiple teeth with “cavities” in different areas of the mouth). The child is also of a young age, either physically or mentally, and unable to cooperate adequately as an outpatient within the dental clinic treatment room.
Risks of General Anesthesia During Hospitilized Pediatric Dental Treatment
Treatment under general anesthesia is not to be taken lightly and is not without risks. One death occurs for every two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) anesthesia cases each year. These deaths are generally attributed to allergic reactions, undiagnosed cardiac problems or other systemic conditions. If a child is of good general health with no underlying systemic medical condition, no untoward event is anticipated. The anesthesia staff will be more than happy to address all your questions.
Advantages of Hospitilized Dental Treatment
The advantage of hospitalized treatment will be that all dental treatment will be completed at one time with minimal discomfort and psychological fear of dentistry. Treatment in the OR is generally considered a “one time” procedure to bring the child to a level of optimal dental health of which the child and parent can then maintain with improved home oral hygiene and periodic follow-up.
Alternatives to Hospitilized Dental Treatment
Alternatives to hospitalization include completion of treatment in the dental clinic with the use of physical restraints for a non-cooperative patient. This is generally considered for short or emergency procedures. In-house sedation (i.e. sedation outside the hospital setting, but within the dental office) is available. The disadvantage of the latter is that it may still require more than one appointment and may be without the safety net of on-site physician and nursing staff.
NOTE: As a parent you must seriously consider the extent and immediacy of your child’s dental needs and realize that dental decay in children’s progresses very quickly. Dental care is still based on space availability (involving waiting lists). Treatment delays may not be in the best interest of your child.
For additional questions, please contact Pediatric Dental Specialist – Dr. Stephen P. Girdlestone at (330)-491-7777.
Stephen P. Girdlestone, DDS