You’re worried about your child, and not sure what the right questions to ask are. That’s entirely normal. This article will help guide you through important questions to consider.
Basic Questions to Ask Your Dentist
Let’s start with the basics. These are also questions that you should ask right upfront. They may seem obvious, but they work as conversation starters to let your dentist know that you’re ready for a serious talk.
Does my child need anesthesia for a dental procedure?
Anesthesia means that your child is “put under” or is made unconscious. There is still debate among dentists about the risks versus the rewards of using anesthesia on children. Do your research and form your own opinion. Anesthetization is an essential point to agree on.
What medicines will be used for sedation?
Generally, these will be things like numbing agents or possibly anesthesia. Anything else should be noted. It also offers an opportunity to bring up personal medical information of the child, like allergies.
Is the person who is administering the sedation experienced with children my kid’s age?
Typically, the professional will be trained and experienced. However, dealing with a small child is different from dealing with an adult or teenager. Dentist’s offices can be hectic places, show concern here as a reminder to the dentist that you expect the best person for the job.
Will there be any restraints such as a Papoose Board?
How comfortable is your child with visits to the dentist? What are restraints necessary? Again, start the conversation about critical issues. Don’t wait for the dentist to initiate the conversation.
Listen to your instincts. If your gut feeling is to get a second opinion, then ask your current dentist, “is this a crisis? Can it wait a year or two?” Hint: few dental problems constitute a crisis.
The rest of the article walks you through questions for each of the three stages of a procedure. You can treat these like a check-list to go through with your dentist.
Questions Before the Procedure
1. Who will provide the preoperative evaluation? The child’s medical history, allergies, prescription medications, and previous illnesses and hospitalizations all need to be taken into account.
2. What, and for how long, are the food and drink restrictions prior to the procedure? Is fasting necessary? Can my child still have water?
3. Does my child need sedation medication (administered at home) prior to the procedure? What should I watch for? What constitutes an emergency? If one should arise, what contact number should I have on-hand?
4. What kind of training does the person administering the sedation or anesthesia have? What about the experience with children the same age as mine? What certifications does this person hold? (Note that different levels of sedation often mean dental boards and national associations must meet different standards).
5. Does the dental office have all the permits and licenses required by the state dental board required for the level of sedation or anesthesia offered? It might seem insulting, but a dental office that has gone through the trouble of proper certifications will likely be proud to share them. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Questions During the Procedure
1. What is the level of sedation suggested? Just numbing, or will there be anesthesia?
Here are the different levels of sedation. Know which levels you are comfortable with having administered to your child.
● Minimal Sedation – Relaxed and Awake
● Moderate – Sleepy but Awake
● Deep Sedation – Barely Awake
● General Anesthetist – Unconscious
2. What emergency equipment, staff, and plans are kept at-the-ready during the procedure? Here is a question to keep in mind at every stage of the process. Nothing provides peace of mind like a solid plan of action.
3. Does the office have an EKG? What about blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and end-tidal carbon dioxide monitors? These are all standard equipment for licensed dentistry offices.
Questions Post Procedure
Finally, we have post-procedure questions. You may feel like your out of the woods, but here is where your child is most vulnerable to any complications
1. How will monitoring the child go after the procedure? What emergency medications, equipment, or procedures should be kept on-hand?
2. Is there an official written response plan provided by the office?
3. What is the best emergency contact number to use should a complication arise? Should you call the dentist’s office directly based on specific symptoms?