Pediatric Dentistry under General Anesthesia
We offer Hospital Pediatric Dentistry for our young patients. Dr. Langha has privileges and performs Pediatric Dental Surgery under General Anesthesia at Texas Children’s Hospital, West Houston Medical center and Houston Childrens Dental Center. We believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of these procedures and invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about this modality, its possible use for your child’s dental procedure, and how you can help.
Fast Facts use of General Anesthesia in Pediatric Dentistry
- Your child’s dentist will recommend general anesthesia to perform dental treatments only if it is needed and benefits outweigh the risks.
- Your child will sleep throughout the procedure and have no memory of it.
- When anesthesia is needed, there are special rules for eating and drinking at home before the procedure or the anesthesiologist may cancel the procedure.
- Your child will have some restrictions after the procedure.
- You should plan to stay at the hospital for most of the day until the anesthesia has completely worn off and it is safe for your child to go home the same day.
To keep your child safe and comfortable during a dental procedure, your child’s dentist might decide to use general anesthesia in the operating room. General anesthesia also may be used if your child needs extensive or complicated procedures that will take a long time to complete in office, or needs several procedures done all at the same time. Ananesthesiologist — a doctor who specializes in anesthesia for children — will give your child the medications that will make him or her sleep soundly during the procedure.
General anesthesia makes your child’s whole body go to sleep. It is needed for certain dental procedures and treatments so that his or her reflexes will be completely relaxed. Your child will feel no pain during the procedure, nor have any memory of it. This is the same kind of anesthesia used for procedures like tonsillectomy or ear tubes placement.
When general anesthesia is needed, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the procedure. One business day before your child’s procedure, you will receive a phone call from a scheduling nurse. Calls are not made on weekends or holidays too. Please have a pen and paper ready to write down these important instructions. The nurse will give you specific eating and drinking instructions for your child based on your child’s age.
Following are the usual instructions for eating and drinking. No matter what age your child is, you should follow the specific instructions given to you on the phone by the nurse.
- After midnight the night before the procedure, do not give any solid food or non-clear liquids. That includes milk, formula, juices with pulp, coffee, and chewing gum or candy.
- Up to 2 hours before the scheduled arrival time, give only clear liquids. Clear liquids include water, Pedialyte®, Kool-Aid®, and juices you can see through, such as apple or white grape juice. Milk is not a clear liquid.
- If your child takes daily medication, you may give it unless specifically told not to do so by your child’s doctor or the scheduling nurse.
Going to Sleep
Once your child has been registered for the procedure, a member of the anesthesia staff will meet with you to take your child’s vital signs, weight, and medical history. As the parent or legal guardian, you will be asked to sign a consent form before the anesthesia is given.
- When your child has fallen asleep, you will be taken to the waiting room.
- If your child is very scared or upset, the doctor may give a special medication to help him or her relax. This medication is flavored and takes effect in about 10 to 15 minutes.
- If you wish, you may stay with your child as the sleep medication is given.
Following General Anesthesia
Once the procedures have been completed, your child will be taken to the recovery room where nurses will carefully check his or her vital signs. The effects of general anesthesia can last for many hours.
- Your child’s nose, mouth, and throat may remain numb for 30 to 45 minutes after the procedure.
- Your child’s throat may remain slightly sore for 1 to 2 days after general anesthesia.
- Your child’s gums and mouth may be sore for several days afterward, depending on the dental procedure.
- Use caution when your child eats and drinks for about 30 to 40 minutes after the procedure.
- Your child may feel dizzy or feel like vomiting.
- Give your child only soft foods for the first few hours after undergoing anesthesia
At-Home Care and Follow-Up Visits
- Your child is not to return to school or day care that day, and you may need to see how he or she feels the next day. Sometimes the effects from general anesthesia — usually tiredness — can last into the next day. Your child will need to remain at home where an adult can monitor him or her.
- Upon returning home, your child may only have minimal activity for the remainder of the day.
- Your dentist will tell you when you should schedule a follow-up visit.
When to Call the Dentist
If your child’s gums are sensitive, Tylenol® or Motrin® will help with any discomfort. If your child experiences the following for more than 24 hours following dental surgery done with anesthesia in the operating room, you should call the dentist:
- severe bleeding of the gums
- severe pain
- severe vomiting or dizziness
If your child has any of these symptoms, call the Dental Clinics of Texas at (832) 427-1901 immediately.
If you are calling during the evening or on a weekend, please call the hospital.
If your child has any special needs or health issues that you feel the dentist and anesthesiologist need to know about, please talk to the anesthesiologist, Anesthesia nurse or Pediatric Dentist before the procedure. If your child has developed a cold, stuffy nose, or other condition that makes it hard to breathe through the nose, you will need to call Same Day Surgery and the procedure will have to be rescheduled. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs your child might have. In some cases they may require to get a clearance from their physician before we can do the treatment.