VERNON HILLS, ILLINOIS-Hearing your child’s dentist say your child needs to go under general anesthesia for dental work may be upsetting to some, but our pediatric dentists are prepared with the information and reassurance-for parents and children.
Usually we recommend general anesthesia for children who are unable to cooperate or need lengthy or multiple procedures. We may treat them at a hospital or surgery center. All three of our pediatric specialists are on staff at local hospitals or surgical centers.
“We try to prevent the need for this type of operation as much as possible,” says Dr. David Maddox. “But for some situations, like when a preschooler needs eight cavities repaired, in-office treatment isn’t practical.”
Dr. Maddox and Dr. Cameron Wagner practice at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and treat patients under general anesthesia monthly. Dr. James Orbon treats patients under anesthesia at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and Hawthorne Surgery Center where he is on staff.
“It is important for parents and patients to feel free to ask questions during the appointment to help understand what has been recommended and what will happen,” says Dr. Orbon, who has been a children’s dentist for decades.
Hospital sedation is usually a last resort after trying other sedation options such as nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, which can be done at our Gurnee or Vernon Hills pediatric dentistry office. We can use this inhalation analgesic during an in-office visit to help calm anxious patients during their dental treatment.
Prevention is the number one recommendation we give parents to avoid needing major dental work again. Dental decay is largely preventable if patients follow the correct general dentistry guidelines: thorough dental hygiene and consistent visits to the dentist.
There are also other techniques to help combat dental caries in a young patient, including at-home fluoride treatments or sealants- white or clear resin bonded to the hard-to-clean grooves of molars or premolars.
“The biggest thing parents and guardians can do is start dental care early to get in a routine of consistent oral hygiene at home and visits to the dentist twice a year,” Dr. Wagner says.
Dental care starts from birth. For infants, a clean, wet gauze or washcloth can wipe plaque from teeth and gums. A child’s first visit to the dentist should be when the first tooth erupts or by the first birthday, whichever comes first. Once children have several teeth, their parents need to brush their teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush and toothpaste after breakfast and before bed every day. As soon as there are two teeth touching, start flossing daily.
Reduced or limited snacking can also reduce the chance of cavities. Starchy or sugary food and drinks cause the pH level in the mouth to drop sharply, leaving teeth awash in an acid bath that attacks enamel for 20 minutes until saliva normalizes the pH. Frequent snacking means more frequent exposure to acid. Another thing to avoid is putting a baby or toddler to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water.
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