Parent Guide - FAQs

A. General anesthesia is a controlled state of unconsciousness that eliminates awareness, movement and discomfort during dental treatment. A physician or dentist with specialized training can use various medications to provide general anesthesia for patients receiving dental care.

One major benefit to this technique is that extensive dental work can be performed in one session in a very controlled environment. Since the child is unconscious and asleep, the treatment is not as traumatic, and the child does not remember the treatment.

A. Many children suffer from serious, potentially painful dental diseases. Unlike health conditions such as cold and flu, dental diseases don’t go away on their own. When treatment is required for a serious dental condition, general anesthesia may be recommended to make the required treatment possible in a safe and comfortable way. Without treatment dental caries can adversely affect learning, communication, nutrition, and other activities necessary for normal growth and development of your child. Other ways children may benefit from general anesthesia include children who:

  • are too young and frightened to cooperate. The procedure will be done with little to no memory of the procedure, to help eliminate stress.
  • exhibit a high level of anxiety or fear. These patients can be treated with anesthesia to ease their fears and create a pleasant dental experience.
  • have extensive dental needs. Normally, it may take several appointments to have work completed, spanning weeks or months. Under general anesthesia, these procedures can often be completed in one appointment, without discomfort.
  • have special needs. Patients with Attention Deficit Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Seizure Disorder, Development Delay or other health issues may have their dental work completed in a safe, comfortable manner.

A. Dr. Donald Lee will be performing the general anesthesia treatment. Dr. Lee is a trained dentist anesthesiologist and has completed residency training in anesthesiology. He has been successfully treating children for 23 years. His expertise, warm chairside manner and commitment to making each child’s general anesthesia experience as safe and comfortable as possible has made him a favorite of patients, parents and dental offices.

A. Contact your dental office to schedule your appointment. They know what days we are scheduled to be there. Our office does not schedule appointments.

A. The total length of time varies with each child and depends on the amount of time the dentist takes during the procedure. Your child’s dental office will be able to tell you an estimated time length for the procedure. Once you have that, we can give you a quote for our service.

A. Our fees are completely separate from your dentist’s fees. We are two separate offices and each bill for our own services. General anesthesia fees are based on time. Each child’s treatment is different and thus takes a different amount of time. Once we know how long the dentist is estimating for the dental work, we can give you fee information for our services.

A. Your child must have a completely empty stomach on the date of anesthesia. This reduces the risk of vomiting and inhaling stomach contents into the lungs during the procedure. Not following instructions exactly could be very dangerous to their health.

A. Please do not give your child anything to eat or drink from 10:00 pm the night before the procedure until the procedure is finished. This includes water, brushing teeth, gum, etc.

A. Please contact our office to review medications and receive instructions concerning their use before general anesthesia.

A. Your child should wear comfy, loose clothing with short sleeves. If your child wears diapers or pull-ups, please bring an extra just in case. Sometimes general anesthesia causes children to shiver. A small, cozy blanket on hand will be appreciated by your child at that time.

A. We do not allow anyone to come back to the dental chair with the patient. The dentist and assistant will be there along with Dr. Lee. We want to make sure there is room to maneuver as well as ensure we are focused solely on your child.

A. Although there is some risk associated with general anesthesia, it is very safe when administered by an appropriately trained individual in an appropriately equipped facility. Many precautions are taken to provide safety for your child during general anesthesia care. Patients are monitored closely during the general anesthesia procedure by Dr. Lee who is trained to manage complications. Your pediatric dentist will discuss the benefits and risks involved in general anesthesia and why it is recommended for your child.

A. Dr. Lee is equipped with an anesthesia machine, multi-parameters monitors, emergency drugs and equipment and is highly trained for any issue that may arise. During general anesthesia, Dr. Lee monitors the patient using state-of-the-art machines. Your child will have monitors placed to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, respiratory rate (breathing), heartbeat (EKG), temperature and blood pressure. Your child will be constantly monitored until they are safely returned to your care.

A. We will let you know when it’s safe to go home but want you to stay until you feel ready to go. After the procedure, your child may sleep for hours or act tipsy or silly. They may vomit or feel nauseous. They may experience a sore throat or dizziness. These side effects usually decline rapidly in the hours following surgery. If they are vomiting or experiencing nausea, our main concern is dehydration. Children need their fluids so start with little sips of water, apple juice or Pedialyte. If they can’t hold it down, wait for 30 minutes and then try again. If they don’t seem to be having any problems with those clear fluids, you can add soup broth or things that are easily digested. Stay away from milk based and any dairy products until you’re sure that your child’s stomach is back to normal since dairy products can trigger vomiting. Dr. Lee will provide you with post-anesthesia instructions as well as our office number and his personal cell phone number in case you have any questions or concerns during this time.

A. Insurance is meant to be an aid in receiving dental care. Many patients think that their insurance will pay most of their anesthesia fees. Unfortunately this is rarely true. The percentage paid is usually determined by how much you or your employer has paid for coverage or the type of contract your employer has set up with the insurance company. Many insurance companies do not pay for general anesthesia services in the dental office. General anesthesia claims go through a review process at the insurance company. They are reviewed to see if the anesthesia is medically necessary and they consider the age of your child, the dental treatment being done and the plan you have with them.

A. You may have noticed that if your insurance pays on your child’s claim, they may reimburse you at a lower rate than our actual fee. Often, insurance companies state that the reimbursement was reduced because our fee has exceeded the UCR used by the company.

This statement gives the impression that any fee greater than the amount paid by the insurance company is unreasonable or well above what most anesthesiologists in the area charge for their service. This can be very misleading and is not accurate.

Insurance companies set their own fee schedules and each company uses a different set of fees they consider allowable. These allowable fees may vary widely because each company collects fee information from claims it processes. The insurance company then takes this data and arbitrarily chooses a level they call the “allowable” UCR fee. Often this data can be three to five years old and these “allowable” fees are set by the insurance company so they can make a healthy profit.

Unfortunately, insurance companies imply that we are “overcharging” rather than say that they are “underpaying” or that their benefits are low. In general, the less expensive insurance policy will use a lower usual, customary or reasonable (UCR) figure.