Sedation dentistry refers to the use of sedatives during dental treatment. The goal is to establish a relaxing and anxiety-free experience during the dental treatment. There are different types of sedation, and our office provides those alternatives to you based on your child’s level of anxiety and/or treatment needs.
Sedation can range from the use of nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” used to calm a patient to general anesthetics used to put patients to sleep. We will evaluate your child individually and make the appropriate recommendation for a safe and effective option. Your participation in regards to any type of sedation is crucial to our success.
Sedation is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association. It is an effective way to make many patients comfortable during their dental visit. Before choosing a type of sedation, it is important to tell your dentist about any medications or medical treatments your child is receiving.
One of the major benefits of sedation dentistry is that people often feel like their dental procedure lasts only a few minutes. Most young children are unable to understand and tolerate the experience of having a dental treatment completed. Multiple office visits can also elicit stress and anxiety in young children. Sedation can be used as an adjunct to complete the necessary dental treatment safely and efficiently.
Nitrous oxide is used as a conscious sedative during dental visits. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. Since it is a mild sedative, patients are still conscious and can talk to their dentist throughout the appointment. Your child may giggle or tell stories; occasionally a child will fall asleep. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is given through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child’s nose. After treatment is completed, the gas is turned off. The effects wear off almost immediately. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects. It is non-addictive. Some patients may experience nausea and/or constipation and our office recommends not giving your child a big meal before their appointment.Oral Sedation
Oral sedation is recommended for apprehensive children, very young children, and children with special needs. The technique is easy and requires your child to drink the chosen medication. Various medications can be used to sedate a child. The medications are selected based on your child’s overall health, level of anxiety and amount of dental treatment. Once the medications have been administered, it may take up to an hour before your child shows signs of sedation and is ready for treatment. Most children become relaxed and/or drowsy. They may drift into a light sleep from which they can be aroused easily. Unlike general anesthesia, oral sedation is not intended to make a patient unconscious or unresponsive.
In rare cases, some children may not experience relaxation but an opposite reaction such as agitation or crying. Restraint may be necessary for the very young or apprehensive patients. We cannot allow our patients to harm themselves during treatment and restraint may be used for protection from injury from sudden movements while performing treatment.
Remember that as a parent/legal guardian, you play a key role in your child’s dental care. Children often perceive a parent’s anxiety which makes them more fearful. Children tolerate procedures best when their parents understand what to expect and prepare them for the experience. If you ever have any questions about the sedation process, please ask. As you become more confident, so will your child.