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Fearless Visits: Using General Anesthesia to Ease Children’s Dental Fears

If your child has anxiety or fear about dental visits, they’re not alone. Both kids and adults can experience dental phobia that can make visiting the dentist a stressful experience. Even though dental procedures are typically painless, some children may still feel anxious and have difficulty sitting through a procedure. General anesthesia for dental work is a safe and effective option for managing dental fears in children, and it’s more accessible than you may think. Desert Valley Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics offers safe, gentle general anesthesia for children who need it.

Are sedation dentistry and general anesthesia identical?

General anesthesia is a type of sedation dentistry, but it goes beyond relaxation and minor pain relief. With general anesthesia, your child will be fully unconscious and unable to feel or remember anything related to the dental procedure.

Under sedation, you will feel relaxed and may fall into a light sleep. Often, your dentist refers to this as conscious sedation because you are awake, though in a state of depressed alertness. You will likely be able to maintain your own airway and respond to verbal or physical cues. This method of sedation is delivered through a face mask using nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, or it can be administered as an oral pill or via injection.

Desert Valley Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics offers a range of sedation dentistry options, including nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas) and oral sedatives. However, general anesthesia may be recommended for children who have extreme dental fear or anxiety, behavioral issues, extensive dental work that needs to be done in one sitting, or medical conditions that make it difficult to sit through a procedure.

Can general anesthesia be safely administered for pediatric dental treatments?

Many parents have concerns about the safety of general anesthesia for children. However, it’s a commonly used and safe option when administered by an experienced dental team. Sedation dentistry can be done in-office, but may also take place in your local hospital with our dentists. Before the procedure, your child’s pediatric dentist will review their medical history and make sure they are a good candidate for general anesthesia.

During the procedure, your child’s vital signs will be closely monitored by a trained anesthesiologist or dentist anesthetist. Afterward, your child will be moved to a recovery room where they will be monitored until the anesthesia wears off.

Preparing your child for general anesthesia: A guide for parents

If your child is scheduled for dental work under general anesthesia, here are some tips to help them prepare and :

  • Talk to them about the procedure in a calm and reassuring manner, using age-appropriate language.
  • Explain what general anesthesia is and how it will make their dental visit easier.
  • Help them choose a favorite toy or blanket to bring with them for comfort.
  • Avoid discussing any potential pain or discomfort they may experience during the procedure.
  • Follow pre-operative instructions carefully, such as avoiding food and drink before the procedure.
  • Be available to answer any questions they may have leading up to the appointment.

Recovering from general anesthesia: what to anticipate after dental work

After the procedure, your child may feel groggy or sleepy for a few hours. They may also experience some minor side effects such as nausea, dizziness, or soreness in the area where dental work was done. These effects should subside within a day or two.

Prepared for a worry-free dental visit?

At Desert Valley Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, we want to make the dental experience as comfortable and positive as possible for your child. If they have severe dental phobia or need extensive work done, general anesthesia may be the best option. Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more about our sedation dentistry options and how we can help you and your child overcome any fears they may have.