General anaesthesia and my child

General anaesthesia means that your child is fully asleep. Due to the increased demands in safely monitoring for such a procedure, this anaesthetic is carried out in a hospital environment as a day-stay procedure.

Children with airway problems including sleep apnoea, loud snoring, large tonsils, adenoids, retruded (small mandibles) or children with obesity have an increased risk of side effects during conscious sedation. Children below 24 months of age also have a higher risk to sedation in a dentist chair. Consequently, some of these children are better treated under general anaesthesia.

Fasting is an important part of dental sedation. Certain foods may alter your child’s reaction to conscious sedation procedures. This food may ‘compete’ with the sedative agent being administered, and delay/alter the desired effect. In the case of general anaesthesia, not fasting may compromise and endanger the recovery of your child post-operatively.

Children easily perceive anxiety on others (especially from anxious parents). Please assist us by reassuring your child pre- and post- operatively. Do not mention words such as needle, pain, injection, etc… The dentist will explain your child step by step on the day of appointment.

Numbness of the mouth, especially a lower lip can be an unusual experience for many children. Please remind your child not to bite or pinch the numb lip (or tongue). In the event that your child does bite the lip/tongue, an ulcer will develop and this should heal on its own in 7-10 days.

Side effects of oral sedatives. The “angry child syndrome” is a rare side effect that is self-limiting once the drug wears off. Depending on the severity of this reaction, treatment may be abandoned.

Please do not bring other siblings or children at the sedation appointment. Your sedated child will require your full attention. Please also be aware that your child will require close supervision after the procedure (conscious sedation & general anaesthesia). Avoid outdoor activities (e.g. running around or swimming) on this particular day.

Sedation item numbers 927, 943 & 949. These numbers denote the need for either conscious sedation (927 & 943) or general anaesthesia (949). Unfortunately, private health funds choose to rebate poorly or in some cases not at all. As per the Australian Dental Association’s dental glossary of term, by law, we do need to include this item number and it attracts fees.
Your contract with the health fund is between you and the fund. It remains separate from the contract you have with your dentist.

Dental treatment involving fillings and simple tooth removal can often be carried out using injections to numb the child’s mouth. It is also possible to add sedation, which makes the child feel drowsy, and helps to relax children who are anxious or afraid.

For some children however, especially the very young, a general anaesthetic may be the only option. You may have some concerns and questions about general and the following information is designed to help you.

If you would like further information then please ask our dentist, nurses and your anaesthetists. They will be happy to help or feel free to visit our page Frecuently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Anaesthesia.