Sedation Dentistry 101: What Parents Need to Know

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Dental sedation has been a delicate topic among pediatric dentists and parents alike. Dental sedation has helped our little patients get through many types of dental work, such as root canals, tooth extractions, and dental fillings. However, the fact remains, patients and their parents get anxious about the process that they tend to hold it off. And while we do not advise sedation for regular dental cleanings and other routine care, dental treatments where a patient is extremely nervous and may have huge discomfort may call for it. We may recommend sedation for long, more complex procedures and for little patients who are especially nervous. Dental sedation for kids is generally a very safe procedure. In addition, as parents, you can help lessen the risks and stress level for your child before, during and after the dental treatment.

At Kidsmile, we know that each patient is different and we want your child to be as comfortable as possible whenever they visit us. Relieving your child’s anxiety about dental treatment is important to us. That is why we have made available in our office several types of anxiety management methods to further assist you.

Is It Safe?

The very first question that you may ask is – Is it safe for my child to be sedated? Allow me to answer you in this way. We fully evaluate your child’s dental and overall health. Dental sedation comes in different kinds or levels, depending on your child’s condition and level of anxiety. To make the best decision, a parent also needs to know each level’s effects and see which is the best option for the child. Just like you, our priority is your child’s safety and dental wellness.

What are the Kinds of Dental Sedation?

There are different levels of dental sedation. They are as follows:

Nitrous Oxide: Also known as the ‘laughing gas’, nitrous oxide is an odorless gas that is breathed through the nose during dental treatment and wears off quickly. Your child will breathe in nitrous oxide, calming and relaxing him or her, but will remain fully conscious during the procedure. It can also assist children with severe gag reflexes

Oral sedatives: Oral sedatives help relax our patients during dental treatments. The sedative is usually given an hour or so before the appointment. Similar to nitrous oxide, your child will be fully awake but less anxious, and may also feel a little sleepy until the sedative wears off. An example of an oral sedative is diazepam.

Intravenous sedatives: Intravenous sedatives, or IV, can put your child in varying stages of consciousness. Some IVs are also known as general anesthesia. Using this will put your child into a deep sleep until it wears off. However, there are some IV drugs that can put your child into a so-called ‘twilight sleep’ instead of making him or her less aware of the surroundings. It will cause your child to be sleepy and might not remember much of the procedure once it is finished.

There are also local anesthetics that can be used. These medicines will numb your child’s mouth during a dental procedure so that he or she will not feel the pain. Anesthetics are usually administered by the dentists with a short needle in several places along the gum line. If your child is less anxious, then maybe local anesthetic might be the only thing your child will need.

Whatever option you decide to take for your child, it is always best to discuss it first with your pediatric dentist. You need to also disclose any allergic reactions your child may have experienced in the past, especially to anesthesia. This will help the dentist in making safe and educated recommendations for your child’s procedure.

What Should We Expect?

As earlier mentioned, dental sedation varies in level. If you opt for an oral sedative for your child, for example, the dentist will give your child a prescription for the drug plus instructions on how to take it. Once the drug kicks in, your child will start to feel drowsy and more relaxed. Meanwhile, no preparation is needed if you opt for nitrous oxide. The pediatric dentist will supply it throughout the procedure. However, for IV sedation, you and your child will need to prepare in advance such as the need to fast for several hours before the procedure, among others.

Your pediatric dentists have safely performed numerous treatments already, including managing children’s pain and anxiety. But as a parent, it is also essential for you to know and understand the benefits and risks involved in these kinds of the procedure so that both you and the dentist can make the best decisions for your child’s dental treatment. By working together, we can choose the appropriate steps to make your’s dental visit as safe and comfortable as possible and to help you keep your child have that healthy smile.


Sources:

Anesthesia or Sedation for your Child’s Dental Work? HealthyChildren.org (https://healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/Anesthesia-or-Sedation-for-Your-Childs-Dental-Work.aspx)

Is Dental Sedation Safe For Kids? Colgate (https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/procedures/anesthesia/is-dental-sedation-safe-for-kids-0415)

Anesthesia and Sedation, MouthHealthy.org by American Dental Association (https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/a/anesthesia-and-sedation)

Is Sedation Dentistry Right For You?, 123Dentist.com (https://www.123dentist.com/is-sedation-dentistry-right-for-you/)

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