Preparing Your Child For Difficult Dental Work

General Anaesthesia Can Be Challenging For Little Ones

If your child has a dental procedure coming up, help them prepare for general anaesthesia with these tips.

Children as young as 5 years old can experience dental anxiety, which is often the result of having parents with their own fears about visiting the dentist. Whilst there are many things that we can do to alleviate worries about sitting in the big chair, there may come a time when your child requires dental work that is more challenging than a routine check-up. If a general anaesthetic is needed, then you can help to prepare your child for this visit.

Why Might My Child Require A General Anaesthetic?

Sometimes it is necessary to give anaesthesia to a child who finds it upsetting or challenging to lie still and keep their mouth open wide enough for a dentist to carry out their checkup. If treatment is required and a child is panicky, stressed or in pain during the procedure, then it may make sense to offer a general anaesthetic as a quicker way to carry out the necessary dental work.

Fasting Before Anaesthesia

In the event that your child needs a general anaesthetic, your dentist will usually tell you how long they’ll need to fast beforehand. A Chelmsford dentist explains that this is to ensure that the contents of the stomach are empty so that there’s no risk of any food being inhaled into the lungs during the dental procedure. Unfortunately, ‘nil by mouth’ applies to water too. However, you should give them adequate food and drink until the deadline that you’ve been given. This may involve you waking your child for a few sips of water during the night to ensure that they’re fully hydrated beforehand. For children who are unable to fast safely, such as those who are diabetics, they can be provided with intravenous fluids.

Providing Comfort For Your Child

Naturally, your child may be feeling anxious about the dental procedure, even if they’re aware that they won’t be awake when the treatment is happening. You can help to reassure your child by inviting their favourite teddy or doll to come with them and give extra cuddles throughout the visit. If your child still wears nappies or pull-ups to bed, then it might be worth allowing them to wear this protection during the treatment so that they don’t need to worry about having an accident.


If possible, try and arrange for two adults, either both parents or a grandparent or friend to accompany your child to the dentist. This way one can drive you all home whilst the other can sit in the back with your child in case they’re feeling a little tired or emotional. Follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions extremely carefully, which may involve administering paracetamol or only eating soft foods for a temporary period. Make sure you provide your child with a much-needed reward for their bravery, perhaps a favourite movie or a special toy they’ve had their eye on! Remember that the more positive you make the experience, the better they’ll feel about their next visit and you’ll be setting them up for a lifetime of positive associations with dental appointments.