Any person with dental pain or infection requires dental treatment at any age. Sometimes, young children may need general anesthesia or sedation for the pediatric dentist to finish the treatment. Anesthesia is administered before the procedure to help the patient alleviate the pain or sedate a nervous or anxious patient. Sedation may also become necessary when behavioral management techniques such as tell show-do, positive reinforcement, distraction, and parental presence are insufficient.
Below is an overview of the types of anesthesia and sedation. The parents must know their options so they can talk with their pediatric dentist or oral surgeon about the nature of sedation he or she recommends prior the dental work:
- Nitrous Oxide – also known as laughing gas, is a mild sedative and least invasive. A mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen will be delivered through a mask, and within five minutes, the child relaxes and will experience euphoric feelings. At the end of the procedure, pure oxygen will be given to the patient to clear out any remaining nitrous oxide.
- Mild sedation – this medication or combination of drugs is usually used on older children and adults. Your child will be calm and awake, and sometimes they can do what the dentist or surgeon asks him to do.
- Moderate sedation – children are usually sleepier under moderate sedation, and most patients do not remember anything about the procedure.
- Deep Sedation – this involves intravenous medication to help your child sleep through the process. The drug will be delivered through a needle inserted into a patient’s vein. The American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists explains that nitrous oxide is used first to send a child to sleep before the needle is inserted. More so, a tube is inserted into the patient’s throat to aid breathing.
We understand safety is the primary concern of parents about dental sedation. Sedating a patient is usually a very safe procedure, and parents can help reduce the child’s risk and stress before, during, and after treatment.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises parents that children tolerate sedation and other dental procedures best when the parents understand what is happening to prepare the child. For key safety reasons, parents must restrict food and drink to the child before sedation because it poses a risk of stomach contents being vomited or inhaled into the lungs. Parents must also provide a full medical history and inform the pediatric dentist if the child receives any prescription drugs, herbal medicines, or over the counter medications.
During the Procedure
Ensuring the patient’s safety is the dentist’s utmost concern. While sedated, blood oxygen level, blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate are closely monitored. Parents can help their children stay relaxed by being calm and encouraging. It is also suggested that a child bring their comfort items such as stuffed animals or favorite toys. Holding the child’s hand, or talking, or singing to your child are other good comfort tactics.
After the Procedure
Expect that the child may be fussy, confused, or nauseous. It is advised that two adults will accompany the child home – one person is driving while the other is monitoring the child’s breathing. It is recommended that the child will stay home after the procedure as the lasting effects of sedation include loss of physical coordination, dizziness, sleepiness, and nausea.
Dental sedation is a safe and fuss-free procedure with the right information, preparation, and proper care after it is over. By communicating with your pediatric dentist clearly, you will be able to provide the best possible experience for your child.
We, at Kidsmile, are passionately dedicated to providing quality dental care for your child. Our goal is to partner with you to help your child establish and achieve excellent oral health as they grow.
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