Sedation Dentistry for Kids: How it Can Help

We’ve all heard those terrified children at the dentist’s office. They’re screaming, crying, and pleading to go back home. It can be annoying to some, but nothing is more embarrassing than being the parent of one of these scared children. It seems like no amount of soothing, bribing, or yelling can calm your kid down when they’re scared of the dentist. Nowadays, there’s a smart solution to helping your nervous child calm down, and that’s sedation dentistry.

How it Works
The concept is similar to the nitrous oxide (or laughing gas) that a patient might receive before a major dental procedure. Pediatric sedation can be administered in one of three ways: orally, intravenously, or through the nose. The sedative is given about 20 minutes before the dental visit begins. By the time the dental hygienist gets to work, the child will feel calm and relaxed. The amount of sedative given varies depending on the child’s needs and the amount and depth of work to be done. Children can be mildly to deeply sedated, with little to no side effects.

Child Safety
Children in good health make the ideal candidates for pediatric sedation dentistry. A physical evaluation will need to be performed by the dentist prior to administering the sedative. Once the sedative is given, the child will be closely monitored. Machines and staff will help keep track of pulse, blood pressure, and other vital signs while the child is sedated. A special chair or other equipment may also be used to prevent the child from interfering with the procedure, since the child is still conscious and may be curious. The American Dental Association and other agencies have set strict guidelines for pediatric sedation dentistry that are strictly followed to ensure the child’s safety before, during, and after the appointment.

Side Effects
Most of the sedatives used are mild are produce no major side effects. The oral and intravenous drugs enter and exit the system quickly. In the case of nitrous oxide, oxygen can be given to remove the sedative from the system and restore the child to a normal state. In any case, each child should be closely monitored following sedation. They will not be allowed to leave the dentist’s office until their vital signs are normal. A child who has undergone sedation should rest for that day and not attend school or other activities as a precaution.

Procedures Performed
Sedation dentistry can be used for nearly all dental procedures. If a major procedure, such as a root canal, filling, or tooth pulling needs to be performed, then deep sedation may be the best option. However, mild sedation can work well for simple cleanings and checkups. Parents can work with specially trained dentists to help determine what the correct sedation level should be for a given appointment. Over time, the patient may begin to feel more comfortable with simple procedures and may require less sedative to feel relaxed.

Give Your Child Comforting Dental Care
Don’t let your child skip out on important dental check-ups out of fear. Give sedation dentistry a try. Even parents of the most scared and stubborn children have gotten good results using this technique. With no side effects, it’s a safe way to give your nervous child the dental care they need.