General Anesthesia For Your Child's Oral Surgery: What You Should Know

Although general anesthesia isn't typically required for routine pediatric dental exams, it may be necessary for more extensive dental procedures such as extractions and oral surgery. Administered by a pediatric anesthesiologist, your child may be given nitrous oxide through a breathing mask, followed by intravenous medication to induce a sound sleep. As a parent, it's your responsibility to follow the guidelines and rules prior to the anesthesia.

Why Your Child May Require General Anesthesia

Placing your child in a deep sleep may be best for complicated dental work that requires your child to be still for a long period of time. Quite often this procedure will be done at the hospital, although it may be performed at the dental office. General anesthesia relaxes the entire body, making your child feel comfortable and enabling the dentist to work effectively. With general anesthesia, your child will not feel any pain during the procedure and is unlikely to recall details of the event.

Advance Preparations

The dentist will need to know your child's complete medical history, including a list of known allergies and medications he or she is taking. If your child has a medical condition, the dentist must be told. In addition, a parental or guardian consent form must be signed.

Typically, the child must not have any food or liquids after the night before the procedure. The guidelines may vary according to your child's age, however. It's important to speak with the pediatric dentist or nurse regarding these rules and follow them carefully. Parents or guardians are always given clear instructions to be followed prior to the child's anesthesia and dental procedure.

How You Can Help

Try to stay positive and calm, or your child may pick up on your own apprehensions. If you prefer, ask the dentist and anesthesiologist if you may stay with your child in the operating room until he or she falls asleep. Holding your child's hand as the medication mask is placed may calm your child's fears. Explain to your child that you are nearby and will be there when he or she wakes up. Once your child falls asleep, you will be instructed to stay in the waiting room.

Post-Operative Care

After the dental procedures are finished, your child will need to be in recovery for a short period of time. The recovery room is designed to help nurses monitor your child's vital signs post-operatively. After your child awakens, he or she may be groggy from the effects of the medication, and this is considered normal.

With the approval of the dentist, your child may consume soft foods and cool liquids at home. Milkshakes, puddings, ice cream and lukewarm soup may be offered. Mashed potatoes and bananas are other good choices that may be consumed the next day. A post-operative instruction sheet will be given to you with further instructions.

What to Avoid After the Procedure

After your child's oral surgery, the dentist may advise the following:

  • Don't allow your child to drink through a straw for several days following oral surgery. Doing so may dislodge the blood clot, possibly necessitating further treatment. Forceful spitting must not be allowed, either.

  • Hot foods and liquids should be avoided after the procedure. Numbness of the mouth is common for several hours after anesthesia, and your child could suffer burns when consuming hot drinks or food.

  • Your child should refrain from physical exertion for a day or two after oral surgery. It's important for your child to rest, as strenuous exercise may cause bleeding around the site. The dentist or surgeon may advise you when it is safe for your child to resume normal activities and return to school.

In conclusion, be alerted to any unusual changes or symptoms your child experiences. If fever, bleeding or vomiting persists past 24 hours following oral surgery, you need to consult with the pediatric dentist for further instruction. After-hours assistance should be available through an emergency telephone number. If you need to contact a pediatric dentist, try visiting a site like