Sedation Dentistry for Children

When you take your child to the dentist in Chino Hills & Eastvale, CA, you may wonder if sedation dentistry for children is the right option for your child. There are a few things you need to know about this process to help you make the most informed decision for your child. Dental sedation is only intended to reduce the child’s anxiety and discomfort during dental visits. In some cases, like with, oral sedation or nitrous oxide, the child may become drowsy or less active while sedated, but this will quickly desist after the procedure is completed.

When is sedation used?

Sedation is used in several circumstances. Firstly, very young children are often unable to keep still for long enough for a pediatric dentist to perform high-precision procedures safely. Sedation makes the visit less stressful for both children and adults and vastly reduces the risk of injury. Secondly, some children struggle to manage anxiety during dental appointments. Sedation helps them to relax, cope, and feel happier about treatment. Thirdly, sedation is particularly useful for children with special needs. It prevents spontaneous movement, and guides cooperative behavior. This is why it’s important to discuss your child’s personality with our pediatric dentist, as well as their past experiences, to help decide if pediatric sedation dentistry for kids is the right choice for their needs.

What are the most common types of sedation?

Most pediatric dentists have several sedation options available, and each one comes with its own particular benefits. The dentist will assess the medical history of the child, the expected duration of the procedure, and the child’s comfort level before recommending a method of sedation.
Conscious sedation allows children to continually communicate, follow instructions, and cooperate during the entire procedure. The major methods of conscious sedation are described below:

Nitrous oxide – The pediatric dentist may recommend nitrous oxide (more commonly known as “laughing gas”) for children who exhibit particular signs of nervousness or anxiety. Nitrous oxide is delivered via a mask, which is placed over the child’s nose. Nitrous oxide is always combined with oxygen – meaning that the child can comfortably breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Laughing gas relaxes children extremely quickly, and can produce happy, euphoric behavior. It is also quick acting, painless to deliver, and wears off within a matter of minutes. Before removing the mask completely, the pediatric dentist delivers regular oxygen for several minutes, to ensure the nitrous oxide is eliminated from the child’s body. On rare occasions, nitrous oxide may cause nausea. For this reason, most pediatric dentists suggest minimal food intake prior to the appointment.

Oral sedation – Children who are uncooperative, particularly anxious, or unable to control their muscles for prolonged periods, may be offered an oral sedative. Oral sedatives come in many different forms (usually tablets, pills, and liquids), and may make the child feel drowsy. If oral sedatives are to be used, the pediatric dentist may require parents to prepare the child before the appointment. Some common preparatory measures may include: limiting food and fluid intake prior to the appointment, having the child wear comfortable clothing to the appointment, and preparing to stay with the child for several hours after the appointment. Oral sedatives rarely produce serious side effects – nausea is among the most common.

Other forms of conscious sedation – Other less common ways to administer sedatives include intravenous (IV sedation), the use of suppositories, and even the use of a nasal spray. In most cases, the method of delivery may change, but the chemical nature of the sedative remains the same.

What about general anesthetic?

General anesthetic (which puts the child in a deep sleep), is rarely used in dental work unless:

  • A procedure cannot otherwise be performed safely.
  • The child has a condition which limits cooperation or the ability to follow instructions.
  • The child needs a lengthy treatment.
  • The child needs more complex dental treatment or oral surgery.

General anesthetic requires more intensive preparation before the treatment and a longer period of recovery after the treatment. Conscious sedation is usually favored wherever possible.

Is Sedation Dentistry for Children Safe?

One of the biggest concerns for parents is weather pediatric sedation dentistry for kids is safe. Our Chino Hills & Eastvale, CA, dental office takes all of the steps necessary to ensure your child’s health and safety during every procedure. This is especially true in situations where we use sedation dentistry to put your child at ease. Our goal is always the comfort and safety of your child, allowing us to perform the necessary dental procedures without causing any harm to your child. Children can be some of the most difficult patients due to their inability to sit still for a long period or their high levels of anxiety when it comes to visiting the dentist. We take great pride in offering the compassionate, quality dental care they need in a safe, comfortable environment so every child can keep their oral health in good shape.

If you have questions or concerns about sedation techniques, please contact your pediatric dentist.

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