Dental sedation is a very safe procedure for children. Here’s how it works, and a few details about the safety precautions parents can take to make the process go more smoothly.
Why is my dentist recommending sedation for my child?
If your child is scheduled to undergo a long complex procedure, or is especially young or nervous, your dentist might recommend sedation.
Dental sedation can also help children with special needs to get the dental treatment they need, treatment that might otherwise be impossible or extremely stressful.
Types of Sedation for Children
Oral sedation, nitrous oxide and intravenous sedation are the three primary types of sedation that dentists most commonly use for children. This is also true for adults.
Oral sedation does not put patients to sleep, it just just helps them to relax. Oral sedation is taken by mouth or through the nose when the patient arrives for the appointment. The medicine generally takes up to 20 minutes to begin working.
Nitrous oxide, frequently known as laughing gas, helps children remain calm during dental treatment. Nitrous oxide is delivered via a mask, and within a few minutes the patient begins to feel relaxed then euphoric. Following the procedure pure oxygen is given to the patient in order to to clear out any remaining nitrous oxide.
Intravenous sedation is delivered through a needle inserted into the patient's vein. Nitrous oxide is used to put the child to sleep before a needle is inserted into a vein on the back of the hand. A tube is also inserted into the patient's throat to aid breathing.
Children tend to tolerate sedation procedures best if the parents understand what is going to take place and prepare the child before the appointment begins.
Your child's dentist will provide you with detailed instructions regarding how to prepare your child ahead of the appointment, and will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
The dentist will give you instructions on how to restrict food and drink before the sedation appointment.
Dressing your child in loose-fitting clothing will help the process to go more smoothly since it will allow dental assistants to attach monitors quickly and without fuss.
When you arrive for the sedation appointment you will be asked to provide a full medical history for your child. It is essential to let the dentist know if your child is receiving any prescriptions, over-the-counter medication or even herbal supplements.
At our Delta dental office, ensuring the safety of our patients is paramount. While sedated, your child's blood pressure, blood oxygen level, heart rate and temperature will be closely monitored.
It is best if two adults accompany the child, or teen, home — one to drive, and the other to monitor the child's breathing. Some of the longer-lasting aftereffects of sedation include loss of physical coordination, dizziness, sleepiness and nausea, so going back to school or daycare on the day of the appointment is definitely not an option.
For the first few hours following the procedure, parents should give the child soft foods only. Once the mouth has healed, your child may continue caring for his teeth as normal.