Different Types of Pediatric Sedation Techniques for Kids

Different Types of Pediatric Sedation Techniques for Kids

A trip to the dentist can be nerve-wracking for even the most confident adults. So it’s no surprise that so many children are also terrified of sitting in the dentist’s chair. Check-ups, cleanings and fillings can certainly be an uncomfortable experience for youngsters.

Despite your best efforts to ease your child’s fears, sometimes pediatric sedation is necessary to perform crucial dental work. Sedation is particularly effective for kids who:

  • Have a low tolerance for discomfort
  • Cannot sit still for long periods of time
  • Require a lot of invasive dental work
  • Have a sensitive gag reflex

What is Pediatric Sedation?

Sedation involves using medication to relieve anxiety or make a patient unconscious. When used correctly, sedation dentistry can help calm your child, so they can receive the care they need.

There are two levels of sedation: conscious and deep. Most pediatric dentists recommend minimal sedation, which will relax the child without putting them to sleep.

What Types of Sedation are Available?

1. Conscious sedation

This sedation is administered through the nose or mouth as soon as the child enters the dental office. Different techniques to achieve conscious sedation include drinking a specific liquid or inhaling a gas. Although it won’t put your child to sleep, it will keep them calm and relaxed. Nitrous oxide is an example of a gaseous conscious sedation method. Administered through a mask, this method will help calm and relax your child without putting them to sleep. Nitrous oxide does not last very long and customers are legally allowed to drive home after it has worn off. If you choose to do conscious sedation through a drink they will not be able to physically do much for hours after it has worn off. It takes about 20 minutes for the patient to feel its effects through a drink. These methods are unpredictable.

2. Deep sedation

The IV sedation will make your child unconscious. It’s administered through a needle in the vein, usually on the back of the hand. A tube is also inserted through the child’s mouth to help with breathing. Because deep sedation is much riskier, emergency life-saving equipment is always available. Your pediatric dentist will also be assisted by a team member whose sole responsibility is to monitor your child’s breathing and heart rate.

3. General anaesthesia

This method involves anaesthetic vapour inhalation through an endotracheal tube to keep the patient sleeping and unaware of the surgery. Similar to deep sedation in that it is much more predictable than conscious sedation methods. This strategy is most commonly used in hospitals.

What are the Benefits of Sedation?

When administered by a qualified pediatrician, sedation can help your child get the dental work they need. It can be very dangerous to perform dental work on a nervous or fidgety patient. It can also be very stressful for a parent to see their child in pain, especially during a root canal or extraction. Pediatric sedation can ease anxieties and calm your child’s fears so that the dentist can care for their teeth properly.

A child who is adequately sedated can also receive more dental work per visit. This efficiency is key in avoiding more procedures in the future. By allowing the dentist to perform all necessary work, your child’s oral health will be much better off in the long-run.

Are there any Risks?

If your child is under the age of 6, sedation is not usually recommended. However, if he or she does require a sedative they should be monitored carefully. Children this young have smaller airways, making it harder for them to breathe while under sedation. Children who are overweight or obese are also at risk because sedatives are stored in fat cells, meaning they don’t metabolize as well, resulting in longer recovery time.

There is a myth that is growing about how different sedation methods can cause different cognitive development issues. All of these studies show inconclusive evidence that any of these sedation methods cause cognitive development issues in children.

Despite some of the risks involved, sedation is very safe when administered in a controlled environment.

For more information about pediatric sedation techniques for kids, call Smile Town at 1-866-533-9440 or contact us here.