For some children, treatment in the dental office setting is too difficult due to extensive dental needs coupled with a high level of anxiety or fear. Many very young children (or some older children with special needs)with extensive dental needs have yet to develop coping mechanisms that would allow them to cooperate for dental treatment. These patients are often best treated in a hospital operating room (OR) setting while they are asleep under general anesthesia. General anesthesia is a controlled state of unconsciousness that eliminates awareness, movement and discomfort during dental treatment. When a child is asleep under general anesthesia Dr. Hollowell or Dr. Porter will be able to complete all of the child’s dental treatment in one visit.
Dr. Hollowell and Dr. Porter treat their OR cases at Wake Med Hospital on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh. The general anesthesia is provided by an anesthesiologist who is a physician that specializes in putting people to sleep with general anesthesia. The general anesthesia for a dental case is virtually the same as the general anesthesia provided when a child has a surgery to remove the tonsils or has a hernia repaired. The anesthesiologist will use an anesthetic gas delivered through a breathing tube that will keep the child asleep during the procedure. While the child is asleep Dr. Porter or Dr. Hollowell will be able to complete all of the child’s dental treatment in one visit. The entire procedure is considered outpatient surgery meaning that the child will have the surgery and leave the hospital later that day.
General anesthesia is safe but as with any surgery there is always some risk associated anytime a patient is put to sleep under general anesthesia. It can be used safely and effectively when administered by an appropriately-trained individual in an appropriately-equipped facility such as Wake Med. Dr. Hollowell and Dr. Porter require that any child undergoing dental treatment with general anesthesia must first have a physical evaluation by the child’s primary care medical provider and be cleared for surgery. Some children with pre-existing medical conditions may also need to be evaluated at Wake Med by an anesthesiologist during an evaluation appointment before the actual OR treatment date. Dr. Hollowell or Dr. Porter will be happy to discuss the benefits and risks of general anesthesia if this treatment is recommended for your child.