Different from general anesthesia, which leaves a patient unconscious, dental sedation is intended to simply to lessen a child’s anxiety or pain during dental visits. In some cases, a child may become somewhat drowsy or less active while sedated, but this will reverse after the procedure is completed and the sedative wears off.
When Would Sedation Be Used with Children?
Dental sedation can be used in several instances. First, very young kids can be unable to keep still for any substantial period for the dentist to perform the precise procedures safely. Therefore, sedation can make a visit less stressful for everyone involved and greatly reduce any chance of injury. Second, some kids have a hard time managing their fear and anxiety during dental visits. In this case, sedation can help them to relax and feel more at ease about treatment. Third, sedation can be especially useful for children with special needs, as it can prevent random spontaneous movements, and instead help with cooperative behavior.
What are the Various Types of Sedation?
Most dentists have several sedation options available for children, each one has its own benefits. A dentist should first assess the medical history of the child, the anticipated length of the procedure, and the child’s comfort level before proposing a method.
Conscious sedation methods allow kids to continually communicate, follow instructions, and function during most procedures.
Nitrous oxide – A dentist may recommend nitrous oxide, known as “laughing gas,” for children who exhibit nervousness or anxiety. Nitrous oxide is delivered via a mask always combined with oxygen – meaning that the child can comfortably breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. It is quick, relaxing, painless, and wears off in minutes.
Oral sedation – Children who are uncontrollable or particularly anxious may be offered an oral sedative. Oral sedatives come are usually tablets, pills, or liquids and can make the child feel drowsy. Some common preparation can include limiting food and fluid intake prior and having the child wear comfortable clothing to the appointment, and preparing to stay with the child for several hours after the appointment.
Other forms of conscious sedation – Less common ways to administer sedatives include intravenous, suppositories, or even a nasal spray. In most cases, the method of delivery may change, but the chemicals are the same.