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General Anesthesia in the Dental Chair-Is it Right for Your Child?


During deep sedation or general anesthesia your child may need help breathing and will be unresponsive. Because ofthe potential risk factors of deep sedation or general anesthesia, the person administering the drugs must have advanced formal training in anesthesia.

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									General Anesthesia in the Dental Chair—Is it Right for Your Child?
                                                                                          By Elaine Barrington

While not always their favorite ex-     the exam I will make a recommen-        Children eighteen months to six
perience, many children manage          dation for sedation.”                   years old, and children with special
today’s dental visits with relative                                             needs, are the most likely candi-
ease. Pediatric dental offices can      Pediatric dentists usually manage       dates for deep sedation or general
resemble Tarzan’s tree house, a         minimal or moderate sedation            anesthesia because they are least
submarine voyage, or perhaps a          themselves, mainly using nitrous        likely to control their own behavior
trip into outer space. Add in video     oxide (laughing gas) and/or an oral     and cooperate. Also, they are more
games and movies to the screen          sedative. With minimal or moderate      vulnerable to emotional distress.
above the dental chair and the hy-      sedation, your child breathes on
gienist and dentist merely become       her own, is conscious and responds      During deep sedation or general
tolerated distractions.                 to verbal commands.                     anesthesia your child may need
                                                                                help breathing and will be unre-
But what happens if your child is       Dr. Ghafouri finds it helpful to use    sponsive. Because of the potential
very young, afraid, or disabled,        this form of sedation to reduce a       risk factors of deep sedation or
and diversions or typical behavior      child’s fear about the appointment,     general anesthesia, the person
management techniques aren’t            or when it is unreasonable to ex-       administering the drugs must have
enough? More frequently, pediatric      pect a child to cooperate because       advanced formal training in anes-
dentists and parents are turning to     of the length of the procedure and      thesia.
trained anesthesiologists for the       the intensity of the work.
solution.                                                                       Most anesthesiologists that work
                                        A pediatric dentist will recommend      in dental offices are dentist an-
Administering general anesthesia        that parents consider the option of     esthesiologists who have general
and other forms of sedation in the      deep sedation or general anesthe-       anesthesia permits in addition to
pediatric dental office is gaining      sia when she determines that it is      their state dental licenses. Often,
popularity thanks to new technol-       necessary for safe and successful       their entire practice is devoted to
ogy and sophisticated medications.      treatment. Dr. Ghafouri assesses        anesthesia services in dental of-
However, inherent risk factors as-      this during the exam, “If a child is    fices. Since they are trained as both
sociated with general anesthesia        out of control, then I know I won’t     dentists and anesthesiologists,
should compel you to arm yourself       be able to mellow [him] out with        they are uniquely qualified to work
with the right information in order     nitrous or an oral sedative.”           with dental patients.
to confidently choose a method
that best suits your child’s needs      Filling cavities, for example, re-      Prior to the appointment the anes-
when other interventions won’t          quires your child to remain still for   thesiologist will conduct a health
work.                                   his own well-being. Deep sedation       evaluation of your child over the
                                        or general anesthesia is an alter-      phone by taking a health histo
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