Pediatric dental sedation offers a means for children who are anxious, young, or otherwise unable to undergo a specific dental treatment comfortably to feel at ease and relaxed or to be asleep during their oral procedures. At Discovery Kids Pediatric Dentistry, we offer several levels of dental sedation for children in order to ensure that all of our patients have a pleasant, safe, and anxiety-free dental experience.
Patients who may benefit from pediatric dental sedation include:
- Young patients who are unable to keep still or cooperate for the length of the dental treatment
- Patients with high levels of anxiety or who are unable to manage their anxiety
- Those undergoing extensive or multiple treatments or lengthy dental restoration
- Special needs patients
Pediatric Dentistry Sedation Methods
Dental sedation can range from a mild relaxant to general anesthesia administered in a hospital setting. The individual needs of each child, the extent of the dental treatment required, and parental preference will determine what type of dental sedation is best for your child.
Your pediatric dentist will discuss all the available options with you, which include:
- Nitrous oxide (also called laughing gas): Minimal sedation which relaxes the child while fully awake
- Conscious or oral sedation: Moderate sedation in which an oral medication is administered, leaving the child awake but drowsy, and often having no memory of the procedure
- IV sedation: Deep sedation in which a board-certified pediatric anesthesiologist sedates the child (usually in-office) and the dental treatment is performed while he/she is asleep yet easily wakened
- General anesthesia: Administered in a hospital setting where a board-certified pediatric anesthesiologist will sedate the child to complete unconsciousness in order for the dental procedure to be performed
Numbing medication will still need to be used during most dental treatments that utilize sedation. This will control pain during and after the procedure.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Nitrous oxide is a safe, odorless combination of oxygen and nitrogen that is administered through a breathing mask. The gas is breathed in through the nose, creating a feeling of relaxation and calm within about 5 minutes. Nitrous oxide also contains mild anti-pain components and is useful for patients who have problems with moderate to severe gag reflex. The patient is still fully conscious during the entire dental procedure.
Afterward, the child is given 100% oxygen to breath in order to eliminate any remaining gas from the body. The patient should feel completely normal and be able to return to school or any other planned activity.
Nitrous oxide is often utilized for patients who have mild to moderate anxiety concerning their dental treatment. Their entire procedure, including how the mild dental sedation will be administered, will be explained to the patient in child-friendly terms to help alleviate any fears he/she may have.
It may be beneficial to limit your child to only a light meal prior to undergoing a procedure involving nitrous oxide to avoid nausea.
Conscious or Oral Sedation in Pediatric Dentistry
A stronger medication may be necessary for children with higher anxiety levels or more difficulty keeping still or cooperating for the required dental treatment. The medication used for conscious/oral sedation is typically given in liquid, pill, or tablet form. Your doctor will give you instructions to prepare your child for the sedation.
Sedation preparation may include:
- Withholding or limiting food and drink prior to the procedure (usually after midnight the night before)
- Having your child wear loose, comfortable clothes to the appointment
- Scheduling time off to monitor your child for a few hours after the procedure
Upon arrival for your appointment, your child will be given an anti-anxiety medicine (anxiolytic), which will cause drowsiness within approximately 20 minutes. Your child will remain awake but feel sleepy during the procedure. Most of the effects of the sedation medication will wear off in an hour or so, but the patient may continue to feel a bit tired. Plan to have your child stay home the rest of the day so that the medication can be metabolized by the body.
IV Sedation in Pediatric Dentistry
In some cases, deeper sedation is required in order to perform the necessary dental procedure. At Discovery Kids, we offer IV sedation services administered and monitored by board certified pediatric anesthesiologists, in the comfort of our kid-friendly office. Learn more about Preparing Your Child for IV Sedation Dentistry and General Anesthesia.
At Discovery Kids Pediatric Dentistry, your child’s dental care and safety are of the utmost importance. If you have questions regarding dental sedation or are looking for a dental home, please contact Dr. Zarmin Lalani and her team at Discovery Kids Pediatric Dentistry Frisco, Texas, by completing an online appointment request or phone 469-365-5437.