Being afraid of the dentist is one of the top recorded phobias. It stands in the way of many people getting proper dental care. Most dental procedures today are not that difficult, but it only takes one fearful experience to create a nervous reaction.
This fear of the dentist usually begins after a scary or painful visit when someone was younger and it follows them into adulthood. One of the best ways to avoid a stressful visit with your child is to consider sedation dentistry.
Using a variety of sedation techniques and levels based on their degree of anxiety, your child can receive the treatment and care they need without the distressing aftermath.
Read on for more information on how sedation dentistry can be right for your child.
How Soon Should You Take Your Child to the Dentist
Many people are surprised to learn when they should make their child’s first dental appointment. Most wait until they have a mouth full of teeth. The truth is, you should start much sooner.
A child’s first visit should be right around their first birthday or when their first tooth comes in. Starting early pays off down the road with many benefits.
To begin with, you are getting the child used to going to the dentist. They will learn at an early age not to be afraid of the dentist and it will help with the anxiety as they get older.
Another reason is that good dental hygiene starts young. Even though baby teeth are lost, they still play an important role in healthy jaws and preparing for the permanent teeth. The dentist will show you how to care for them and what to expect as they get older.
Signs Your Child May Need Sedation
Not every child experiences fear at the thought of going to the dentist. If they are comfortable and able to handle the visit, there is no need to introduce a sedative. However, if they exhibit some of these signs, you should consider the options.
If your child has already had one bad experience at a dental visit and talks about it frequently, you should bring up the subject of sedation. Children who already express other anxiety issues are good candidates as well.
Younger children who have a problem sitting still or understanding what is going on will benefit from light sedation to keep them calm and in the chair. Difficult procedures, such as pulling wisdom teeth, is another good call when it comes to sedation. It will make the entire process easier for both the child and the dentist.
Even with early visits and becoming familiar with the pediatric dentist, there are still some children who develop anxiety around going to the dentist. This brings on a host of problems.
The first just being the struggle and stress involved in taking the child to the appointment. It can make for quite a distressing time for everyone involved if they are resistant.
It also affects the quality of care that the dentist can provide. If the child is crying, restless, and moves or jerks their head the dentist will be unable to safely and completely finish the appointment. They could even make the treatment worse by not being still.
Using sedation to calm the child down allows for a peaceful and safe environment for the dentist to work. It also leaves the child without the memory of a frantic and painful experience.
Types of Sedation
There are basically four types of dental sedation. These levels are to provide the correct level of sedation required to calm the child just enough to complete the visit. Some children can get by with just a little and others need to have a bit more.
Inhaled sedation is the lightest form of sedative. The child inhales a nitrous oxide solution mixed with oxygen. This is also called laughing gas. They are conscious and aware of what is going on around them but in a very relaxed state.
Oral sedation is the next step above inhaled. This is administered through a pill. It needs to be taken about one hour prior to the procedure. Depending on the dosage, it will provide mild to moderate drowsiness.
IV sedation is a moderate sedative. It works quickly as it is given through an IV. The child will probably only have a partial memory of the treatment or none at all.
This sedation is exactly what it sounds like. It is the deepest type of sedative and completely puts the child to sleep. They will have no memory of the procedure. This sedative is administered by inhaling a solution and is considered general anesthesia.
Are There Side Effects to Sedation Dentistry
As a parent, you want to make sure there will not be any lingering side effects from the sedative.
Inhaled sedation has little lingering effects. The gas quickly dissipates after the procedure. Pure oxygen is pumped in for a few minutes afterward until all the effects are gone.
With stronger sedatives, drowsiness is the most common feeling. This obviously makes sense, and the child will just need a little extra time to rest until it wears off completely.
Some people experience dry-mouth or a slight headache. Both conditions are rare and do not last very long.
The best advice is to talk to your child’s dentist to go over any concerns and all options.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Scary
Children are not the only ones who experience stress and fear at the thought of going to the dentist. However, most adults with this anxiety can trace it back to a painful and traumatic visit when they were younger.
Sedation dentistry allows your child to receive proper dental care at a young age. It prepares them for a lifetime of healthy teeth with a good attitude about the dentists who will provide that care.
For more information on how we can make your child’s appointment go smoothly and still provide state-of-the-art care, please reach out.