Sedation Dentistry for Children
Local anesthesia refers to a topical and/or injected anesthetic that will affect only the targeted area for a brief period of time to minimize or eliminate sensation or pain in that specific “localized” area during a dental procedure.
Nitrous oxide, sometimes referred to as “laughing gas,” is an effective and safe sedation agent that is inhaled through a mask that fits over your child’s nose. Mixed with oxygen, nitrous oxide allows the patient to breathe normally through their nose, and within minutes they should start to feel the effects. They may feel light-headed or notice a tingling in their arms and legs. Some patients comment that their legs and arms feel heavy. Ultimately, they should feel comfortable and calm. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly after the mask is removed. Talk to the doctor about whether nitrous oxide would be a good option for your child.
General Anesthesia / Hospital Dentistry
IV Sedation, also called general anesthesia, uses medications to allow the patient to go to sleep while receiving dental treatment. Patients with high levels of anxiety or with special needs may benefit from IV Sedation. General anesthesia can also be a good option for patients with extensive tooth decay or for patients who are undergoing surgical dental procedures. The doctor can discuss the risks and benefits of general anesthesia to help you decide if this is a good choice for your child.
Sedation Dentistry FAQs
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is often practiced by experienced pediatric dentists in order to increase their chances to successfully complete dental treatment on apprehensive or pre-cooperative children. There is a large range of options, and it is best to start with the mildest options first. Options range from inhaled nitrous oxide (laughing gas), mild oral sedation (one or two medications administered by the dentist for anxiety), intravenous (IV) sedation administered by an anesthesiologist in our office, and a total/general sedation in a hospital or operating room setting. We will always present you with all the different options for your child’s dental situation in order for you to weigh the risks vs. benefits of each one.
Is laughing gas (nitrous oxide) safe to use with kids?
It is safe for almost all children. It is a form of sedation and not every type of sedation applies to everyone. Every child is evaluated individually and recommendations are always personalized. Nitrous administration involves inhaling a colorless and odorless gas through a mask that is placed over a patient’s nose. Nitrous oxide is useful for patients that are younger and mildly apprehensive. It is also easily reversible and we flush it with 100% oxygen after the treatment so it is completely gone by the time the appointment is over. We use fun masks that have different fruity scents that make it more enjoyable for children to smell. Reducing anxiety this way makes completing routine dental work more enjoyable for all.
Is dental IV sedation safe for kids?
We offer an in-house certified dental anesthesiologist to care for and monitor your child throughout their treatment. By having a separate anesthesiologist, it allows the dentist to focus only on the dentistry. Our anesthesiologist has worked with our practice for over 30 years and is extensively trained in caring for children in a dental setting. Dental treatments that might otherwise require multiple visits can be accomplished in a single session. Adverse behavior is avoided as well as potential bad experiences. Anesthesia provided by an experienced and competent anesthesiologist is a safe option for children requiring more extensive treatment or if milder sedation methods fail. Our anesthesiologist will require a consultation and complete medical history taken prior to treatment to make sure all is well and safe to proceed.
Should my child be sedated for dental work?
Every child is different with a unique situation. We will evaluate everyone independently and give you our recommendations and all the appropriate options. Everything we recommend is made with your children’s safety, comfort, and proper dental health in mind. It is up to you as their parent to make the best decision you can with all the information we provide.