Kidz Teeth Meadowbank

General Anaesthetic

Why does my child need a general anaesthetic?

General anaesthesia is often a choice where complex paediatric dental care is required or a large amount of treatment is needed for a young or very anxious child.  Children who require multiple appointments can sometimes “burn out” or become uncooperative with future care. 

A general anaesthetic allows all treatment and xrays to be conducted under one appointment, where 4-5 appointments with local anaesthetic may be required in the dental surgery.

A general anaesthesia is performed by a trained specialist paediatric anaesthetist in a day surgical unit. The patient is intubated and 'asleep'.

What is an Anaethetist?

Anaesthetists are doctors who have gone on to have at least five years of further specialist training. Ensuring a highly trained specialist performs the anaesthetic reduces the risk of general anaesthesia dramatically.

If you have any specific questions, that you would like answered prior to the planned day of surgery, you are welcome to contact our anaesthetist prior.

We will provide you with the anaesthetist contact details at the initial consultation.

The Day of the GA

Before the Operation

Your child should have nothing to eat for at least four hours prior to the anaesthetic. Clear fluids (water, cordial or apple juice) may be given up to 2 hours before you are due to come in.

On arrival, with your permission, we usually give a dose of paracetamol. Giving it at this time ensures that it will be working by the end of the operation.

You will meet the anaesthetist and have an opportunity to ask any questions.

The Anaesthetic

We are very happy for parents to be with their child when they go off to sleep for their operation.  Parents can then relax in the waiting room while treatment is being conducted.

General anaesthesia is usually initiated via a mask. Anaesthetic gases are introduced slowly while distraction games are played. It usually takes about a minute to fall asleep.

While anesthetised, a small intravenous needle (IV drip) is placed in your child’s arm to administer medicine and fluids. All children are given fluids through the drip to prevent dehydration and ensure a better recovery after the operation. A tube is passed through your child’s nose and into their windpipe to facilitate breathing and provide unhindered access for surgery.

If your child has had previous anaesthesia and has a preference regarding the initiation of the anaesthetic, this will be accommodated.

After the Operation

At the conclusion of surgery your child will wake up in the recovery room in the care of a trained recovery nurse. You will be called to be with your child at this stage. Some children are sleepy and quiet while coming out of the anaesthetic. Others may wake up restless and weepy. This settles quickly and children usually have no recollection of it.

You and your child will stay in the recovery area for about an hour following surgery. It is not unusual for your child to spend some time sleeping when she/he gets home.

One or two doses of paracetamol maybe required at home, but generally there is very little discomfort at this stage.

Side Effects

Nausea is not an uncommon side effect occurring in 10-20% of children. This is usually short lived and medication will be given to reduce it.

Minor discomfort is another side effect that can occur. Every effort is made to prevent this. Usually the combination of paracetamol before the operation, and local anaesthetic injected during the operation to numb the area works very well.

If required, strong pain relief will be given through the drip.

Fee Structure

Fees are made up of three costings:

  1. Dental Fee – Number of fillings, extractions, materials used etc..
  2. Theatre Fee – this is determined by the time taken for the procedure.
  3. AnaesthetistFee – determined by the time taken for the procedure.

Most full mouth comprehensive treatments is conducted as efficiently as possible and take an average of 1.5 hours under general anaesthetic.  This is the equivalent to 4 hours of treatment in the dental chair.

Commonly asked questions

By gently placing a strawberry or bubble gum smelling mask over your child's nose and mouth and anaesthetic gas is breathed in which puts your child to sleep.

No.  Your child is not allowed to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to the treatment. Appointments are in the morning so young children do not have to go without food during the day. The youngest child is usually first on the list.

This depends on how many teeth need treatment. Generally, if 6-8 teeth need some form of treatment an average time is 1-1.5 hours. If the same treatment was to be conducted in the dental surgery, it would take 4-5 appointments totally 4-5 hours.

Most children are not in pain, as we place some local anaesthetic around treated teeth.  However, some children interpret this numbness as pain. Paracetamol is given prior to operation and should be continued at home if needed. The paediatric dentist will advise you accordingly.

Most children are quiet and sleepy.  Some are disorientated and crying.  Generally they settle down after 30 minutes and want to go home to sleep.  The theatre staff are trained to help this recovery stage. 

You are welcome to accompany your child into theatre while he/she is being put to sleep.  Usually your child will sit on your lap while you cuddle him/her.  Once they are asleep you will be taken into the waiting room to have a hot drink and then taken to see your child in the recovery room after treatment.