Putting My 3 Year Old Under for Dental Work?

Updated on July 06, 2010
S.B. asks from Birmingham, AL
15 answers

Ok mamas I need your help once again...
Well I took my 3 year old son to the denist, because I noticed he was getting a couple cavities. One is between his 2 front teeth and one is on his right molar. I've always taken very good care of his teeth since he was a baby so I don't know how he got them. I've always brushed his teeth twice a day since he started getting teeth. He doesnt eat alot of candy, just every once in a while. But I think the reason he has them is because I can't get him to drink any kind of milk to save my life! He's been like this since I took him off formula. He does eat alot of cheese and sometimes yogurts. I try to make up for the milk he doesnt drink. But anyways the whole reason of this is, the dentist said he wants to put him under anesthesia to do the dental work. I'm so scared and dont want him to at all! He says it's because he needs to put white on the front teeth and he has to be completely still in order for him to do this. He says there is more of a chance of us getting in a car wreck on the way there than there is something going wrong with the anesthesia. But still....I really dont want him to be "under". Have any of you mamas ever been through this? I'm just so scared and I even asked if he could give him laughing gas or like a sedation medicine or something without having to put him under but he just really thinks it would be best to put him under for the dental work...He's a really nice dentist and I really like him and trust him, I'm just so scared of my 3 year old son being put under. I dont know what to do. I need some advice somebody please help! By the way the cavity between his 2 front teeth arent bad it's just the one on his molar that seems to have gotten quite bigger and I'm afraid of it getting bigger because the dentist said he will have those teeth until he is around 10-11.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you for all the advice! I decided to get a 2nd opinion and I'm so glad I did. They said they are just going to use the laughing gas and do it. It may take a few appointments, but it's alot better than putting him under anesthesia. Thank you again all of you were so helpful!

Featured Answers



answers from Dallas on

I wouldn't worry about him not drinking milk, milk is THE most common allergen. He can get calcium through his foods. Anesthesia has to be detoxed throught the liver and even nitrious oxide can cause B12 delpletion in some kids with certain genetic snps. I'd avoid the anesthesia if possible.

More Answers



answers from Lake Charles on

My son who is now 7 years old has been put under anesthesia twice for dental work. The first time he was 4. I must admit that I was very scared for him. He did fine and the dental office staff was very nice and accomodating. The hardest part for me was when he began coming out of it at the end of the surgery he cried because he didn't know what was going on. I cried with him. With that being said, he did really well with the whole procedure and within a few hours after coming home he was his old self again. I will pray for you and your son that everything comes out okay.



answers from Fayetteville on

Hi S., I know what you're going through. My oldest had dental issues early on too. If finances allow, it couldn't hurt to get another opinion. It could offer more information to aid in your decision, or at least a little piece of mind. With regard to milk, I wouldn't place too much emphasis on that - a balanced diet whenever possible should be enough.

Besides, it's my experience that genetics play a huge part in these kind of things. My oldest daughter has had almost 4 cavities in her preschool years and my youngest, not a one. I have friends with twins and the same thing - one with lots and the other nothing. Having said that, I am obsessive about their dental hygene because of it. They use a pre-rinse, floss and after rinse and I get a sealant after each cleaning. That seems to have helped, no cavities for the past two years!

I, too, would be very nervous about anesthesia and that's a decision that only you can make. My advice about that is find out who is doing it. I would expect/demand a very experienced anesthesiologist.

I know that whatever you decide will be the best for you and your son. Good luck!



answers from Atlanta on

Hi S.,

Is it imperative that you do the dental work right now? (I don't like anesthesia either by the way. It has taken it's toll on me.) If you could put it off until your little one is old enough to sit still upon instruction, it might be a win-win.

My girls (18 and 14) have never had a cavity. A lot has to do with nutrition but there is not enough calcium in our milk these days to make a difference. If you'd like some info on nutrition, specifically the absorption, and also on some really good dental products, PM me and I can get you some info.

Just because he's a good dentist doesn't mean he understands the effects of the anesthesia. The likelihood of getting in a car wreck is a lot less when you don't get in the car!

God bless,




answers from Redding on

You have 3 choices.
Put him under so the procedure can go smoothely.
Try the procedure without it and possibly listen to your kid scream the whole time.
Don't deal with the issue at all.

I worked for a pediatric dental specialist and usually the only time they "put them under" or heavily sedate them is for the safety of the child and the dentist who is performing the procedure.
It goes by much more quickly when a child is sedated as opposed to the trauma of them kicking and fighting and having to be restrained which only usually causes them a fear of the dentist. Even for a cleaning.
The amount of medication they give to put a child that young under is so minimal that it doesn't really pose a risk and that way, something that can be done in 15 minutes doesn't get dragged out with a scared and combative child.
Dentists are very familiar with this in young patients and they are monitored so closely. They really are.
You have the right to say no.
If you are against it, do so.

But, the teeth will have to be dealt with sooner or later and waiting until your son is willing to be completely still could cause problems if the situation isn't just taken care of.
I know that pediatric dental specialists are very kind and very aware of trying to avoid fear of the dentist so that's why some kids are recommended to be "under". They wake up and everyting is done and it's over. No bad memories.

It's up to you though.



answers from San Antonio on

I am very experienced with having my kids "put under"...not dental yet...but my 5 year old put a bead in an ear (versed and morphine at the ER) then what ever they used during the out patient surgery because they couldn't get it out at the ER.

My daughter had to have eye surgery and was intubated and everything. Her surgery took a couple of hours and we were at the hospital pretty much all day...even though it was out patient...she just wanted to sleep.

Just to let you know you are not alone...it is a bit scary but probably best for having a procedure done.
After having 2 kids have actual surgery...a bit of anesthesia at the dental office should be a piece of cake.



answers from Oklahoma City on

It is nerve racking, but be sure everything will be fine. My daughter was put under twice within 2 weeks, once for dental and once for tonsils and adnoids. Make sure your son brings a favorite blanket or toy, something familiar from home, so when he starts to wake up you will be there and so will the toy or blanket. Dont let him drink apple juice if they offer it, my daughter and another child I know threw it up after surgery.


answers from Richmond on

I have been through the same thing. My daughters dentist found a cavity last year and they wanted to take her two front teeth out. I got a second opinion and they wanted to take out just one. I decided to get one final opinion and he decided that putting children through the procedure is a bit extreme. As long as the cavities are not causing any type of medical issues, then they are fine. My daughter has the tiniest cavity in between her teeth and they are not causing any issues. Luckily I got the third opinion. A little boy went to the 1st dentist and they put him "under" and he passes because of the complications with the anesthesia. I would really suggest getting another opinion before choosing. Good luck!



answers from Little Rock on

Hi, I have no answer about the anesthesia, but in terms of your son not drinking milk, I wonder have you permitted or encouraged him to drink chocolate milk. Our currently 6 year old granddaughter insists on chocolate milk. She will drink regular milk, but very little. Her father..my son also had this habit. He had hardly any cavities until he was grown. Our granddaughter has none. I also allowed this grown son to drink tea in limited amounts. I've read that tea contains floride which is supposed to be beneficial in preventing cavities. If you'll google the words "chocolate cavities" together, there are many websites where you can read that chocolate has antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties. I make my own chocolate syrup with which I flavor the granddaughter's milk. I did the same for her father: 1/2 c. cocoa, 2 c. sugar, 1 c. water, few dashes of salt. Mix together in 2 qt. saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Quickly reduce heat as it may boil over. Continuing to stir, simmer on low for two to three min. until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add 2 t. vanilla. Pour into suitable glass container...preferably one from which you can pour easily. I use an old "Karo" syrup bottle. Sad to say, nearly all syrups and many other food products are processed in plastic jars now. Cool, cap, and store in refrigerator. Flavor milk according to taste.



answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't do this on a 3 yr old. And I would get a 2nd opinion. What would happen to his teeth if you didn't have this work done and waited till he lost his teeth around 5-6?



answers from New Orleans on

I don't have any advice/experience about putting kids under as I haven't had to at this point, but I did want to share that I read a very interesting article not very long ago that says most babies/toddlers typically get dental issues like tooth decay from their parents through our sharing drinks/food/utensils with them, mouth to mouth kisses, and moms sucking on pacifiers to get them "clean" after they drop on the ground. Apparently, the bacteria is contagious and if we have any tooth decay in our mouths, we can actually transmit it to our kids! I had no idea. You said you are diligent in your son's dental care, so I just thought I'd throw this out there as maybe a reason your son has cavities despite all your hard work with the brushing. I hope all goes well with your son and the dentist- have you tried asking around for a second opinion with another dentist to see if they would also require anesthesia? I know you like your dentist, but I understand your hesitation.



answers from Seattle on

If the cavities are relatively superficial, I would try find a dentist that is well enough versed in treating children that he is able to treat a 3 year old without general anesthesia.
Not being from the US I was shocked to hear how many young children here are being put under for dental work.
I have accompanied my older nieces plenty of times at the dentist to fix cavities and that was never even remotely an option. They have a great dentist takes a lot of time to explain EVERYTHING to the child in their terms. They usually give a shot for local anesthesia, before they do this they use an icy cold spray to numb the injection site (and before that the dentist shows the kid how cold the spray is on their finger for example). They go slow and take plenty of breaks whenever necessary. Yes, there are usually some tears, but no screaming or fighting or anything traumatic.

Seeing kids receive that kind of dental treatment in person leads me to believe that dentists that suggest general anesthesia as a first course of action are either not patient enough or too greedy (time = money, and patience takes time) for other approaches.

Now as I said, this is for relatively minor procedures. If your child needs extensive repairs or has a history of tantrums at the dentist, general a. may be a valid approach. It never hurts to get a second opinion though...


answers from Dallas on

My advice for you would be to GET A SECOND OPINION! I know you like the dentist but if you're that worried about him going under, there are plenty of dentists out there who will only use the laughing gas and numbing shots for this type of procedure. My Daughter did have to be put under for her dental procedures but she was 18 mnths old at the time so there was no way they could do the work on her. When my son had to have the same treatment you describe, he was 3 and the dentist only used the gas and numbing shot, he also had to have the whitening put on the front tooth and a cavity filled.

He did great and the gas really relaxes them so they usually stay very still and most dentists have the nurse entertain the child to keep the distracted and still, at least that's how my kids dentists have always been.

Good luck to you, but get a second opinion. It's not a big deal to do that and much easier than switching pedis.

good luck!!



answers from Baton Rouge on

I know how you feel, but everything will be fine. My now 4 year old has gone "under" multiple times: once for an MRI when she was 1.5 (she failed sedation), last year for her yearly Echocardiogram (she wouldn't let them do that or the EKG in the office), again for her Tonsils and Adenoids, another time for a bronchoscope, and not to mention when she was 6 days old and had open-heart surgery. She gets kinda disoriented right after, but it goes away.



answers from Texarkana on

My 3 yr old goes next month for dental work. Cuz she has 4 molars that has cavities n a front tooth that is chipped. But her dentist is sending her to another city to get her work done. They are going to give a med that will make her loopy. They said they wanted to this so it wouldn't frighten her do all that once and know what's really going on. And don't want her kicking n screaming while they are trying to fill the front tooth I.n

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions