Should You Consider Sedation For Your Child's Next Dental Treatment?

Posted on: 26 February 2021


Children often get cavities just as adults do from time to time. When the need for a filling or other dental procedure arises, your dentist may mention sedation. Sedation allows your child to be comfortable during the procedure and keeps them still while the dentist works. Parents may be concerned about the use of various forms of anesthesia during a dental procedure, so read on to learn about the options you will be discussing with your dentist.

Nitrous oxide (or laughing gas): This is the least invasive form of anesthesia, and its use means that your child will remain awake but calm and comfortable. This way of doing things involves no needles — just an inhalation of the gas through a face mask. The gas is mixed with enough oxygen to make things safe. With laughing gas, there is very little downtime for your child. The effects will quickly dissipate, and your child likely won't remember a thing.

Relaxation Sedatives: This form of sedative may be administered in oral form as a pill or capsule. You might even give the sedative to the child just prior to the appointment so that it will take effect as you arrive. A sedative is often the perfect choice that is as non-invasive as nitrous oxide but has the potential to be more sedating. This type of medication probably won't put your child totally to sleep, but they might nap a bit. They will be awake enough to respond to commands but they will remain calm, still, and comfortable during the procedure. In most cases, this choice won't interfere with the child's respiratory or cardiovascular systems in any way. Some children are slower to return to a normal state after this type of sedation. You might notice some coordination issues for the first few hours or so.

Intravenous Sedation (IV): This is as serious as it ever gets in terms of dental office sedation and may only be reserved for children undergoing extensive dental procedures. A trained anesthesia professional (often, a nurse anesthetist) must be on hand to administer the IV and monitor the child during and after the procedure. You can expect your child to awaken slowly and doze off again and again for the remainder of the day after this type of sedation.

It's only natural to be concerned about sedation dentistry. To find out more about the above choices, speak to your dentist and know what to expect.