How safe is general anesthesia in dental procedures for children?

Since two front teeth of Little Prince were broken at a tender age of one while playing with his Daddy, he teeth conditions exacerbated.

The first time we brought him to a national dental facility N, the pediatric dentist recommended for a dental surgery, given his young age.

In spring 2017, I brought him to see a private (presumably more experienced) pediatric dentist, who in spite of her high fee, kindly allowed me to photograph the X-ray images of his teeth. She recommended a dental surgery at a private hospital (the sister hospital of where I delivered Little Princess thanks to a company insurance) and the high estimated cost shocked Honey Panda.

Later, while Little Prince was alone with me in the country where I worked as of spring 2017, he complained of toothache and a more painful one whenever I brushed his teeth. Therefore, I brought him to see an Egyptian pediatric dentist W, who worked fast in giving him pulpotomy. Later, Little Prince no longer complained of toothache. While Little Prince still has many dental work to be done, we returned to his birth country for a summer vacation.

In summer 2017, I brought Little Prince again to N with a referral letter, and the pediatric dentist S preferred a dental surgery with general anesthesia to four dental procedures/quadrants at the dental chair with local anesthesia. She said that if Little Prince is uncooperative, the dental chair procedure has to be stopped and Little Prince would need to go for a dental surgery.

On 20170713, we met a pediatric anesthesiologist, which is also a physician. We became concerned on the effects of GA on his safety and brain development.

There have been fatal cases involving pediatric GA:

  • March 2015: a 6-year-old boy from the San Francisco Bay Area was treated by an oral surgeon in Albany (California) and given general anesthesia.
  • March 2016: a 14-month-old girl stopped breathing after being administered general anesthesia @ Austin Children’s Dentistry. A dentist and an anesthesiologist were in the room with the girl.
  • June 2017: a three year old girl @ Children’s Dental Surgery Center, Stockton, Sacramento. The dental surgery involved separate an anesthesiologist and a dentist.

The next questions that came to our minds include:

  • What are the consequences of untreated dental decay?
    Will the psychological effects of being strapped to a Papoose board motivate children to brush their teeth with discipline?
  • How safe is local anesthesia in dental procedures for children [1]?

We kept on searching for more opinions from the experts.


[1] Using anti-anxiety drugs to relax a child coupled with local anesthesia for pain has risks, too, including an overdose that could suppress breathing.

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