What to Expect
When general anesthesia is needed, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the procedure. A day or two before your child’s procedure, you will receive a phone call from our office to confirm pre-op instructions and time of arrival. Calls are not made on weekends or holidays. Please have a pen and paper ready to write down these important instructions.
Following are the usual instructions for eating and drinking for all children:
- After midnight the night before the procedure, do not give any solid food or non-clear liquids. That includes milk, formula, juices with pulp, coffee, and chewing gum or candy.
- Up to 2 hours before the scheduled arrival time, give only clear liquids. Clear liquids include water, Pedialyte®, Kool-Aid®, and juices you can see through, such as apple or white grape juice. Milk is not a clear liquid.
- If your child takes daily medication, you may give it unless specifically told not to do so by your child’s doctor or the scheduling nurse.
Going to Sleep
Once your child has been registered for the procedure, a member of the surgery staff will meet with you to take your child’s vital signs, weight, and medical history. As the parent or legal guardian, you will be asked to sign a consent form before the anesthesia is given.
- The anesthesiologist will meet with you and your child to review your child’s medical information and decide which kind of sleep medication your child should receive.
- If your child is very scared or upset, the doctor may give a special medication to help him or her relax. This medication is flavored and takes effect in about 10 to 15 minutes and will help them to NOT remember much about the day.
- Soon, your child will be taken to the operating room, where a small mask will be placed over your child’s nose and mouth. The medicine that is directed into the mask will help your child relax and will make your child sleep.
- Once your child is asleep, intravenous (IV) sedation will be started so that medication can be given to keep him or her sleeping throughout the procedure. IV sedation requires a needle to be inserted into your child’s vein, usually in the arm or hand.
- During the procedure, your child’s heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital functions will be closely monitored.
When your child goes to the operating room, you will be taken to the waiting room.
Important Things to Remember
As a parent, having your child undergo anesthesia may be a very uncomfortable experience for you. Children can sense a parent’s concern — so for your presence to be helpful to your child, you must try to be as calm and encouraging as possible. There are ways you can help your child, even if you feel uncomfortable.
- You can bring along a “comfort” item — such as a favorite toy, stuffed animal or “blankie”— for your child take with them into the operating room.
- You can touch your child to remind your child that you are there. Holding your child’s hand or caressing his or her hair and face will remind your child of your presence.
- You can whisper, talk, or sing to your child. The sound of your voice can provide reassurance.
- Even with a parent present, the hospital can be a scary place for a child. Do not feel bad if your child gets upset — even with you there to help.
Following General Anesthesia
Once the procedures have been completed, your child will be taken to the recovery room where nurses will carefully check his or her vital signs. The effects of general anesthesia usually wears off quickly, but can last for many hours.
- Your child’s nose, mouth, and throat may remain numb for 30 to 45 minutes after the procedure.
- Your child’s throat may remain slightly sore for 1 to 2 days after general anesthesia.
- Your child’s gums and mouth may be sore for several days afterward, depending on the dental procedure.
- Use caution when your child eats and drinks for about 30 to 40 minutes after the procedure.
- Your child may feel dizzy or feel like vomiting.
- Give your child only soft foods for the first few hours after undergoing anesthesia.
At-Home Care and Follow-Up Visits
- Your child is not to return to school or daycare that day, and you may need to see how he or she feels the next day. Sometimes the effects from general anesthesia — usually tiredness — can last into the next day. If so, your child will need to remain at home where an adult can monitor him or her.
- Upon returning home, your child’s activity level may be high OR low for the remainder of the day.
- Your discharge paperwork will include a dental clinic post-op appointment in 1-2 weeks.
When to Call the Dentist
If your child’s gums are sensitive, Tylenol® or Motrin® will help with any discomfort. Following dental surgery done with anesthesia in the operating room, if your child experiences any of these symptoms for more than 24 hours, you should call Dr. Hill:
- severe bleeding of the gums
- severe pain
- severe vomiting or dizziness
If your child has any of these symptoms, call our office at 360.675.4613 immediately. If you are calling during the evening or on a weekend, please call Dr. Hill on her cell at 360.416.1514.