Factors influencing referral of children for dental extractions under general and local anaesthesia

L.M Macpherson, C Pine, C Tochel, G Burnside, M. T. Hosey, Pauline Adair

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To investigate the relative importance of a range of explanatory variables concerning why child patients in Scotland enter pathways for tooth extractions under either Dental General Anaesthesia (DGA) or local anaesthesia (LA). A cross-sectional study was carried out involving DGA centres across Scotland. Data collected related to demographic characteristics of child DGA patients, reported anxiety and dental attendance levels of patients and parents, reasons given by referring practitioners for requesting DGA, number and type of teeth extracted and parental beliefs and attitudes to DGA. Similar data were collected relating to children having teeth extracted in primary care under LA. Multivariate analysis was performed to determine which factors were the best predictors of anaesthetic choice. 425 and 121 children having dental extractions under DGA and LA respectively participated. Ninety-six percent of DGA cases and 48% of LA patients had extractions for caries. For DGA cases, the mean age was 6.7 years, an average of 5.3 teeth were extracted and dental anxiety levels were higher than population norms. Multivariate analysis found the number of teeth extracted was the major predictor of anaesthetic type. On removing this variable, age became the most important factor, with 99% of children under 5.5 years receiving a DGA. Among DGA patients, 25% were reported to have had a previous DGA for tooth extraction. Future reductions in DGA numbers will be dependent on decreasing the number of young children presenting with advanced caries in multiple teeth. Consequently, guidelines are required concerning the prevention and appropriate management of caries in the primary dentition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-288
Number of pages7
JournalCommunity Dental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


  • tooth extractions
  • dental general anaesthesia
  • child dental care

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