Children’s Dentists work hard to make sure every child has a pleasant experience during their visit. A bad experience at an early age can lead to a lifetime of fear and delayed dental care. Typically children only need reassurance and encouragement for routine examinations and simple treatments. However, occasionally they may need a more complicated procedure. In order to keep them comfortable and quiet to ensure their safety during the procedure, your dentist may recommend sedation.
There are several sedation methods that have been shown to be safe for children. Depending on the procedure and the age of the child, your dentist will recommend the appropriate approach.
Oral sedation is a syrup or pill that your child will swallow that will make him or her sleepy, allowing the dentist to perform the necessary treatment. Once you arrive for your appointment, the dentist or a licensed staff member will administer the medication, which starts to work in about 20 minutes. Your child should not have anything to eat or drink after midnight the night before receiving oral sedation and you will need to limit his activities for a while once he returns home.
The most frequently used method of sedation for kids is nitrous oxide or laughing gas. Your child’s dentist will place a mask over your child’s nose; many kid’s dentists have fun masks like a “space mask” or “clown nose” to help your child feel comfortable with the device. The nitrous oxide is often scented like candy or fruit and is mixed with oxygen. When your child breathes the gas, he or she will feel happy, “tingly” and relaxed during the procedure. Once the procedure is over, your dentist will give your child pure oxygen to breathe for a few minutes to get all the traces of gas out of his or her system.
In some situations, your dentist may recommend IV sedation, which involves inserting a needle into the child’s vein. This produces a deeper level of sedation. If your child is receiving IV sedation, you will get special instructions to prepare your child for the procedure and for care at home. IV Sedation is only provided under the guidance of a licensed Anesthesiologist.
Sedation is a useful tool for certain dental procedures. Your family dentist will discuss methods with you to keep your child comfortable and safe if he or she requires a complex treatment.