How Sedation Can Improve Your Child’s Dentist Visit

Cleanings, cavities, and check-ups can make your child nervous. One of the best ways to ease their anxiety is to start bringing your child in early, around their first birthday.

cute girl smiling and showing OK sign at dental clinic

Your child may still feel anxious from time to time despite your best efforts. When all else fails, sedation can be an effective tool to keep your child calm so dental work can be done.

Sedation is effective for kids who:

  • Cannot sit still in the dentist’s chair
  • Have an extremely low tolerance for pain or discomfort
  • Have an easily triggered gag reflex
  • Require a lot of dental work

Pediatric dentists recommend minimal sedation for children to keep them calm. Minimal sedation, also known as conscious sedation, is a safer alternative to deep sedation.

Orally administered sedatives are usually the easiest and most common. On the day of the procedure, the medication is given by mouth, often in a syrup and will take about 20 minutes to kick in. Your child will be awake but will enter a dream-like state, but be able to respond to touch and verbal commands.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas is another common sedative and administered through a mask. Like oral sedation, it also keeps a child calm. This method is very safe for kids of all ages.

Sedation for Children

Today’s drugs are fast-acting and pass through the body relatively quickly. Most conscious sedatives are administered orally or via mask, so there’s no need for your child to worry about needles.

Dentists who use pediatric sedation are qualified because they receive specialized training. In the rare case that something goes wrong, emergency life-saving equipment is always on hand. A designated team member is also present whose sole job is to monitor your child’s vital signs. They’ll keep an eye on their temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure levels to make sure the sedation is still working as it should.

Sedation helps your child get the dental work they need. That’s because it can be dangerous to perform dental work on a fidgety child, especially one with special needs. Root canals, fillings, and extractions can be quite painful for a child. It can often be distressing for parents to see their child in pain, so sedation will ease your mind as well.

Sedation also allows dentists to treat kids who would otherwise be too scared to come in. Sometimes, certain dental work is necessary to prevent more extensive work required in the future. A child who is properly sedated can actually receive more dental work per visit.

Despite the advantages of sedating children for dental work, there is still a lot of debate. Like any medical procedure, sedation comes with its own risks. Some children cannot be sedated due to their age. Kids under the age of 6 should be monitored carefully. Children this young have smaller airways that can easily be blocked, making breathing difficult while under sedation.

Overweight or obese kids are also vulnerable. When sedatives are stored in fat cells, they do not metabolize as quickly. This results in a longer recovery time.

Remember: Every child is different and dentists must assess each patient on a case-by-case basis. It is crucial that you let the dentist know of any health or mental conditions that might impact treatment. Be sure to provide a list of medications your child is taking before sedation.

Dental anxiety can become a serious problem if not addressed early on. Fortunately, there are ways to control it. Conscious sedation takes away the fear and many children leave the clinic with hardly any recollection of the procedure at all.

For more information about sedation and children, please call Smile Town at 1-866-533-9440 or contact us here.