Dental sedation is generally safe for children. But here’s what you need to know before your child undergoes sedation.
Children require dental care just as adults do. And when the time comes for your child to undergo a dental procedure, your dentist may recommend sedation to make your child more comfortable and less anxious.
While dental sedation is generally safe for children, you should ask your dentist about the sedation to be used and any precautions to take to ensure your child’s safety. To help you understand what to expect during and after your child’s procedure, read this primer on the types of sedation routinely used in pediatric dentistry.
Types of sedation used in pediatric dentistry
Adults get nervous about dental work, so it’s not surprising your child will, too. With sedation, your child shouldn’t feel any discomfort. It should also keep your child calm during the procedure, allowing the dentist to complete the necessary steps.
Ask your dentist what sedation will be used. Before the procedure, your dentist may instruct you to avoid giving your child solid foods. You should also inform your dentist of any medications your child takes. Feel free to bring a favorite toy to make your child less anxious.
In some cases, another medical professional must be present during the procedure to ensure the child’s safety, as outlined in the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry guidelines. The following different levels of sedation are commonly administered:
Nitrous oxide. Also known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is inhaled. A mild sedative, the gas should relax your child but likely won’t put them to sleep. After the procedure, pure oxygen is given to your child to push the gas out of the body.
Oral conscious sedation. Some forms of sedation are given orally. For children, midazolam oral syrup may make your child groggy or even fall asleep.
Mild sedation. With mild sedation, your child should be awake and able to respond to the dentist’s commands. Mild sedation works best for older children.
Moderate sedation. Another option for older children is moderate sedation. Your child may be conscious but feel sleepy. They should be able to follow the dentist’s instructions and wake up soon after the procedure is done. Dentists and oral surgeons are qualified to administer both mild and moderate sedation.
Deep sedation. Given through an IV, deep sedation will most likely put your child to sleep. Another qualified professional, such as an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist, must be present to monitor your child’s breathing and other vital signs.
General anesthesia. With general anesthesia, your child should be fully asleep. If general anesthesia is used, an anesthesiologist will administer the sedation.
After sedation: What to expect
After the procedure, your dentist will provide detailed after-care instructions to ensure your child fully recovers.
Even though your child may experience only mild, short-lived after-effects, you should keep a close eye. Common but extremely rare after-effects after dental sedation include irritability, snoring, fever, or nausea. They may also feel groggy and temporarily lose some physical coordination.
Since your child’s mouth may be sore, prepare soft, lukewarm foods such as smoothies and mashed vegetables. An ice pack can reduce any swelling. Make sure they drink plenty of water. But most importantly, let your child rest.
Dental sedation for your child is generally safe and well-tolerated. To prepare yourself and your child, ask your dentist questions about what is being administered and what safety precautions are in place. Knowing what to expect will speed the recovery process and give your child a headstart on good oral health!
Bring your child to Espire Dental
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Norman, Oklahoma, location today! Our highly trained dentists can ensure your child’s comfort and safety during the dental procedure. Don’t live near our Norman, OK, office? Find one of our other locations near you.
550 24th Ave. S.W.
Norman, OK 73069