The answer to that question is dependent upon several factors which determine what is best for our patients. In an ideal world, it would be great if every patient we treated was 100% symptom-free but that’s not always a possibility. We need to assess the risk of proceeding with treatment compared to the risk of postponing on an individual patient.
In general, it is necessary to postpone elective, non-emergency treatment for the following symptoms:
· Frequent and productive cough (fluid in the chest)
· Croup or a very hoarse voice
· A respiratory infection [Flu, COVID19, RSV, Strep Throat] requiring medication
· Fever [ greater than 100o F or 38o C]
· Nausea / Vomiting or diarrhea
When patients present with these symptoms, they pose a higher risk of respiratory complications under anesthesia which can be significantly reduced by simply waiting a few weeks for their illness to resolve. In these scenarios, rescheduling is an easy decision.
However, when there solely is an intermittent or occasional cough with or without a runny nose we will consider going ahead with the procedure in the absence of other symptoms.
In the case of some greater level of symptoms with more frequency, such as a low-grade fever and cough with some mucus, we need to take other things into consideration and determine whether delaying the procedure could increase risking added complications related to the dental problem or infection. We will discuss with you:
· What procedure is being done (how involved)
· The presence of acute pain or discomfort or an active infection requiring antibiotics?
· Prior postponements due to recurrent dental infections
In summary, if the procedure is routine (not urgent or emergent) and our patient isn’t on antibiotics or pain medications to treat severe infection, it’s reasonable to re-schedule until they are recovered and asymptomatic from their illness for about 2 weeks. If the dental symptoms are more severe however, it may be reasonable to proceed with the dental procedure and anesthesia as scheduled even when there is a mild-moderate cough, runny nose, or low-grade fever in the absence of other systemic symptoms. In these cases, the risk of serious complications under anesthesia is substantially minimized and the risk of postponing treatment often outweighs the risk of issues with the anesthetic.
Dr. Boorin, Dr. Gluckman, and your dentist will work closely with you to come up with options that will be safe and will also get the necessary treatment completed for you or your child in as timely a manner as possible.
We understand that planning for a general anesthetic is stressful and we all have the same priority for you or your child’s dental experience - SAFETY. General anesthesia, provided in the dentist's office is exceedingly safe with the appropriate monitoring and preparation. Our job is not just about dental health but overall patient health and safety.