Anesthesia in children: deaths after dental treatment

Anesthesia in children: deaths after dental treatment

Dentists perform more complex procedures, sometimes under anesthesia with artificial respiration – several public prosecutors are currently investigating complications.
Image: Mauritius

General anesthesia harbors small but existential risks – especially for children. More outpatient therapies could exacerbate the problem. Recently, there have been several deaths after anesthesia during dental treatment.

Karies is often not easy to treat in children: many get scared when they see syringes or drills and refuse to do so dentist then sometimes completely. That’s how it was with Sophia H., her parents describe: The six-year-old girl didn’t want to be pricked, she had a strong body awareness and didn’t want to be touched by strangers. However, as a result of very close-set teeth, caries developed in several places, and treatment was unavoidable. According to the dentist, sedation with nitrous oxide, in which the patient remains conscious, was out of the question, and she suggested general anesthesia.

“No fear of the dentist thanks to children’s anesthesia”, general anesthesia enables very small children to be treated well, and “what remains is the memory of a positive experience”: many dentists advertise general anesthesia, for example for so-called tooth restoration. “A worrying trend,” warned the Independent Patient Advice Service (UPD) as early as 2020. Since parents want the best therapy for their child, they are receptive to advertising messages. Parents reported that some dentists would otherwise refuse treatment altogether, although general anesthesia is only indicated if no other appropriate therapy is possible.

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