If your child needs some dental treatment but is a nervous patient, then your dentist may recommend that your child is sedated before treatment. While conscious sedation, like nitrous oxide, suits some kids and their treatments, your dentist may tell you that your child should have a general anaesthetic instead.
You may prefer the thought of conscious sedation that keeps your child awake but calm during treatment over a general anaesthetic that knocks them out. However, your dentist may not want to take this route. Why is your dentist convinced that general anaesthesia is the best option?
Oral Sedation Hasn't Worked Before
If your child has had oral sedation in the past, but the treatment didn't work so well, then your dentist may not be happy taking this route again. While oral sedation calms down most nervous kids enough to keep them happy and compliant in the dentist's chair, it doesn't work for every patient.
If your child's anxieties are very deep-seated, or they threw a wobbly over the sedation itself last time, then the sedation may not have been enough to get them through the subsequent treatment without stressing them out. If oral sedation didn't help your child or make it easier for the dentist to get the treatment done, then your dentist may not want to put your child through this again. Your dentist may see general anaesthesia as a better option for your child.
General Anaesthesia Is a Better Option
Sometimes, dentists recommend that children have a general anaesthetic because of the treatment they need. For example, if your child needs multiple teeth extracted or complex work such as removing abscesses, then the procedures may take too long for oral sedation to be a viable option. Your dentist may also be weighing up how much pain anaesthesia your child will need. If your child needs multiple fillings in different areas of their mouth, then this will take multiple injections of local anaesthesia.
This may be distressing for your child even if they also have oral sedation to keep them calm. Their mouth may also be extremely uncomfortable after the treatment. In this kind of case, treatment under general anaesthetic may be better. Your child won't need any local anaesthetic injections as they'll be knocked out during treatment.
If you're still worried about your child having a general anaesthetic, talk to your dentist. They can explain why they think this is the best option for your child.