Why Hospital Dentistry?
In most cases, dental treatment can be completed with a little skill and a lot of tender loving care in our office while kids are awake and able to participate in the process. That being said, however, there are a number of reasons children may need to have dental procedures completed while “asleep.” Some of the reasons children may be unable to tolerate treatment in the office are as follows:
- Very young (pre-cooperative) child
- Special developmental or medical needs
- Extensive treatment needed in numerous areas of the mouth and very
- high likelihood of “burn out” (panicking mid-procedure or becoming dental-phobic due to repeated appointments)
- Very invasive procedures such as numerous extractions, crowns, and
- “baby root canals”
- Defiant or combative behavior
- Failed conscious sedation or behavior management
- A severe gag reflex or rapid, unpredictable movements of the tongue,
- lips and cheeks that could impede the proper use of dental materials and make use of the handpiece (dental drill) dangerous
Whatever the reason, the decision to recommend a procedure under general anesthesia is very carefully weighed against the risks inherent in proceeding in the office while your child is awake. During the surgery, all of the restorative and surgical procedures will be completed while your child is “sleeping.”
Risks of completing treatment while a child is moving erratically include injury and poorly executed dentistry. Remember that dental procedures are actually a form of microsurgery using handpieces that rotate at speeds up to 200,000 rpms and materials that are extremely sensitive to moisture. Some dentists use “papoose boards” to strap kids down to minimize the risk of injury while kids are upset during dental treatment. Dr. Van Cleave does not utilize these methods. It’s a judgement call and has a place in some offices, but since we are very invested in your child’s long-term comfort in the dental office, we choose not to use such methods.
Is this safe?
While performing any procedure under General Anesthesia has its risks, healthy children generally do very well under general anesthesia and tend to have very few complications. To further lessen the risk of potential complications of general anesthesia, treatment is completed in a hospital setting with an anesthesiologist to monitor every breath your child takes and every heartbeat your child makes. Should the very unlikely scenario arise where a medical emergency occurs, the hospital setting allows a team of well-trained professionals to intervene with the push of a button. Dr. Van Cleave is a specialist who performs these surgeries regularly and is very comfortable with the facilities she has chosen to care for your child. If you have specific concerns about general anesthesia please talk to Dr. Van Cleave or your child’s pediatrician. This is a common procedure and they are very familiar with its risks and benefits.