Why would a dentist advise hospital pediatric dental care?
You have been told by your child’s dentist that a hospital setting with general anesthesia is the best choice for your little one. So why would a dentist want to treat your child at a hospital? Is hospital pediatric dental care safe or scary? What do you need to know ahead of time? Let’s look at some of the answers to these questions.
Key Reasons for Hospital Dental Care for Your Child
There are a few reasons why your child’s dentist may want to refer you to a hospital. One reason may be that the dentist feels your child needs more extensive dental work than can be optimally done in a dental office setting, like in the case of extensive decay or a broken jaw. In those instances, the dentist would want to have all the added benefits of a hospital setting with one or more assistants and their highly-trained anesthesiologist to make sure your child gets the most comfortable care during a likely extended procedure.
Another reason may be that the dentist is concerned about your child’s overall health, including preexisting conditions, and believes that a hospital setting is the best place for your child to receive treatment and have all their health needs protected. Once again, having all the assets and benefits of a hospital setting ensures your child gets the best and safest possible care.
A third common reason for dentists to advise hospital pediatric dental care is that some children suffer from high anxiety or find it difficult to follow directions, especially in a strange setting. Others have a severe gag reflex, and others still have allergies to local anesthetics, such as a shot of lidocaine (or the older novocaine) that dentists use.
Hospital pediatric dentistry gives your child the best possible care.
For all of these reasons, and because we want to offer your child safe, high-quality, and comfortable care, our pediatric dentists have admitting privileges at several hospitals to provide comprehensive hospital pediatric dental care under general anesthesia. Two of the hospitals we work with are the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopedic Institute and Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital Center.
Still, as a parent, you probably have questions, and that’s good. It shows how much you care about your child, and we love to see parents’ love for their kids! This is why we want to try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions here. And we encourage you to speak to us in person about any other questions you have.
How to Prepare Yourself and Your Child
During your consultation, we’ll discuss each aspect of a procedure with you ahead of time so you know how best to prepare. We’ll also give you paperwork with the pertinent information about what your child can eat or drink before surgery. But here we’ll cover some typical guidelines to give you a feel for what to expect.
Food and Drink Scheduling
First, what may your child eat or drink, and how long before coming into the hospital should they stop eating and drinking?
Typically, if your child is under a year old, they may drink formula up to six hours before surgery but should not have any solid foods after midnight the night before. A breastfed baby may breastfeed up to four hours before coming into the hospital.
Generally, for older children, you should not allow them to eat or drink anything that is not “clear” after midnight the night before your surgery. This means they should not have things like milk, most juice made from fruits, coffee, and treats like chewing gum or candy.
On the other hand, they may have water, Pedialyte®, or Kool-Aid® up to two hours prior to arriving at the hospital. If your child typically takes medications between midnight and the time of surgery, be sure to talk with us about that. Most medications are OK, but it’s always good to be sure ahead of time.
We all face a certain amount of anxiety when we experience something out of the norm in a strange place. Possibly both you and your child will face some feelings of anxiety. Just remember this is normal, and you can prepare ahead of time by bringing your child’s favorite stuffed animal, blankie, or other soothing object. Maybe you’ll want to play soothing music on the way to the hospital or talk about something fun or funny.
And don’t forget to bring something along to keep yourself distracted while you wait too. We all know how slow the minutes pass while sitting in the waiting room as our loved one is undergoing a procedure. So bring some music, a book, or a video game along for the duration.
What to Expect Afterward
Once again, we’ll be sure to talk to you about what you can expect, and you can ask any questions you have. Some procedures are more extensive than others, so specific expectations may vary.
Generally speaking, once the dental work is completed, your child will be taken to a recovery room where they can gradually wake up. As always, we’ll monitor your child closely and make sure their needs are met. Parents are often allowed in the recovery area and can sit with their child as they wake up.
Everyone responds differently to general anesthesia, so until your child has experienced this at least once, you won’t know whether they will just be groggy or if they will get a bit silly or feel a little sick to their stomach.
Grogginess typically lasts for as much as an hour or two, but you should not be surprised if your child wants to lie around or nap for most of the day.
Pain and Discomfort
Your child should feel no pain upon awakening. In fact, the area that was worked on will most likely be numb after surgery. If they feel any discomfort later on, we will be sure you have medicine on hand to help.
Some children will experience some nausea or dizziness after waking up. Some queasiness is normal as long as it is not severe or long-lasting. If your child struggles with nausea after taking pain medication, you should talk with your dentist to see if there is a different medication that could be used.
You might also notice they have dry lips or a scratchy throat for a day or two after the procedure. Once again, this should pass, and many children won’t even notice it.
Always remember, we are just a phone call away. Don’t feel embarrassed about calling to ask questions if you’re unsure whether what your child is experiencing is normal or not.
Hospital pediatric dental care gives kids with special needs a compelling advantage.
For a child with special needs, dental work, especially if it’s extensive, can be overwhelming. At the same time, you don’t want to forfeit your child’s right to a pain-free, healthy mouth. General anesthesia in a safe hospital setting gives your child what they deserve without putting them through extra trauma.
That’s why We Make Kids Smile has put extra effort and training into caring for every child in the way that’s best for their needs. It’s why we trained for and pursued admitting privileges at several hospitals to provide full comprehensive pediatric dental care under general anesthesia in a safe, comfortable environment. We want to make dental treatments accessible for every child in any situation, and we want you as the parent to feel comfortable all along the way.
Does your child need to undergo dental work? Are you ready to find a health advocate that will work with you to find the best solutions for your child? If so, feel free to contact us or book an appointment today.