Frequently Asked Questions

Why can't my child eat before surgery?

We are not trying to be mean to your child, but are truly concerned about their safety. It is very important that your child adheres to the fasting rules prior to their surgery. (see Fasting table below) The reason is this: Under General Anesthesia, the food contents in the stomach may come up the esophagus, and into the mouth, then get aspirated into the lungs. This is a very rare, but serious complication of General Anesthesia.

We recommend your child not to eat after midnight, however, if their surgery is late in the day, or they get hungry/grumpy, they may eat as the table indicates. The child needs to be FASTING for at least the hours shown, or their surgery will be postponed or cancelled.


Please, refer to the following.

Food Example HRS
Clear Liquid Water, apple juice, soda, Pedialyte, popsicles, Kool-Aid 2
Human Milk Human breast milk 4
Milk Cow, formula 6
Food Toast, cereal, orange juice 6
Meal Meats, eggs, french fries, fatty food, proteins 8

How will my child go to sleep?

Don’t worry; we will NOT poke your child with any kind of needle or shot prior to them falling asleep. One of the dental assistants, with whom your child may already be familiar, will take your child back to the treatment room, then a cherry flavored mask is placed on his or her face. An anesthetic gas is turned on, and within a few nice deep breaths, your child quickly drifts off to sleep. Once your child is asleep, an IV is started, and a breathing tube is placed into their nose to help them breathe during surgery. Your child is kept asleep the entire time during the surgery, and prior to waking up, the IV and breathing tube are removed.

Can I be with my child as they fall off to sleep?

Yes you can, BUT we prefer that you not. The reasons are this:

  • Having a parent present rarely helps calm the child.
  • The treatment rooms are small and having an additional person in there makes it a tad cramped.
  • Parents tend to ask questions, which takes our focus away from the child and toward them. We want to be
    as safe as possible and give your child our undivided attention.
  • Of the parents that come back, more than 50% tell me they wish they hadn’t.
  • As a father, and an anesthesiologist, I know BOTH sides, and I did not go back when my child had surgery.
    I wanted the staff to focus on my child and not me.

  • How long will it take for my child to wake up from Anesthesia?

    The medications used are VERY short acting, and wear off rapidly. The wake up process usually takes only 10-15 minutes. As soon as it is deemed safe, we ask the parents to come back and be with their child as they are finishing waking up.

    Why is my child grumpy or tearful after surgery?

    Children may wake up grumpy and tearful after surgery. This is NOT because of pain, but because they may feel disorientated or dizzy. This may be the first time they have ever felt like this, and they are often confused. As they are awakening, it is best to talk to them and re-assure them you are at their side. Luckily for all involved, this grumpiness only lasts 5-10 minutes then goes away.....but unfortunately comes back when they become teenagers and seems to never go away :-)