Hi, my name is Dr. Steve Yun, M.D., and I am a board-certified dental anesthesiologist.
The first and most important question I am often asked is this: "Is dental anesthesia safe for my child?"
I totally understand the anxiety behind this question. As the father of two children who had dental anesthesia, I empathize with parents' concerns.
However, I can assure you that dental anesthesia, when performed PROPERLY by the PROPER PERSONNEL, is EXTREMELY safe. Indeed, as parents we do things every day that are probably more dangerous for our kids. Take for example the recent study published in the journal of Pediatrics. This study found that more than 66,000 children under the age of 3 go to the emergency room every year due to accidents involving nursery products in our own homes. This translates to a child getting injured once EVERY 8 MINUTES.
Common dangers exist in all "routine" aspects of our lives. Perhaps the most dangerous event in our children's lives is driving them in the car. Accidents involving transportation are the leading cause of injuries and deaths in children. And sooner than we would like to think, one day our kids will grow up and drive on their own.
Now most teens are safe and good drivers, but compare the safety measures and training of the teen driver versus my training and safety protocols as a board-certified anesthesiologist:
Teen drivers must have 25 hrs classroom + 6 hrs of driving instruction.
Dr. Yun completed 4 years college, 4 years medical school, and 4 years of training.
Teen drivers only need to take two exams (1 written exam and 1 driving exam).
Dr. Yun completed 3 medical licensing exams and must take a board exam every 10 years. He also must complete at least 50 hours of continuing medical education every 2 years, including advanced CPR.
Most teens simply get in the car and drive without performing a safety check of their car.
Dr. Yun always goes thru safety checklists before each procedure
Many teens often disobey or adapt their own “rules of the road.”
Dr. Yun meets or exceeds the anesthesia standards of the American Society of Anesthesiology, American Academy of Pediatrics & the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology. When these standards are followed, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry notes that deaths have NOT occurred.
Most teens are not expert drivers. Dr. Yun is a safety inspector and expert consultant for the Dental Board of California and the AAAASF Accreditation Agency.
Teen drivers are novices & the highest risk group to get into an accident.
Dr. Yun has over 20+ years of experience and has performed over 18,000 anesthetics with no serious adverse events (brain damage or death).
In summary, I often tell parents that the most dangerous part of their child's dental anesthetic may be the car drive to and from the office!
Statistics bear this out. It is estimated that there have been as many as 1.5 MILLION pediatric dental anesthesia cases in California since 2010 (Chika 2012). Yet, during the time, only 9 pediatric deaths have been reported and half of those cases involved children who had serious medical conditions that complicated their care (i.e., no negligence or malpractice was found in those cases).
These statistics are reassuring, but even ONE case of patient injury or death is ONE TOO MANY! As a regional director of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation (headed by President Bill Clinton), our goal is to push for ZERO preventable deaths by 2020.
As a doctor, a patient safety advocate, and most importantly, as a fellow parent, I promise I will always do everything possible to provide the safest, most comfortable anesthesia experience for your child and treat them as if they were my own.