Although no child is born with a fear of the dentist, the experience can be overwhelming for some.

It’s a new environment, surrounded by unfamiliar objects, and new people. While our team does everything possible to help your child relax, some children still feel anxious at the dentist. This is where dental sedation for kids can help.

But what exactly is dental sedation? When would they need it, and how safe is it?

Let’s take a closer look at dental sedation for kids to put your mind at rest. 

What Is Dental Sedation for Kids?

Dental sedation for kids refers to a range of treatments that help your child to relax during dental procedures. 

Some procedures require a long time in the dentist’s chair. This can make children anxious. Also, some children may naturally be very active or find it hard to sit still for long amounts of time.

Giving children sedation when needed can make the experience much more pleasant for them. They will be calm and relaxed, and it will allow the dentist to safely carry out needed dental work. 

What Types of Dental Sedation for Kids Are There?

There are several types of dental sedation for kids:

  • Light sedation with nitrous oxide
  • Mild sedation with medications
  • Moderate sedation with medication
  • Deep sedation – administered via IV


Light, mild, and moderate sedation do not put children into a deep sleep. In fact, they are awake and should be able to follow commands throughout but feel relaxed and not in pain. 

Laughing gas works very quickly. However, mild and moderate sedation in the form of oral or liquid medications takes around 15 minutes to start working. It may take up to an hour for it to reach its full effects.

The dentist will monitor your child and will only begin the procedure when they have reached the right level of sedation. A second dentist or anesthesiologist will monitor the anesthesia very carefully throughout the whole procedure.

It is very rare that a child would need IV anesthesia for a procedure. 

If your child requires general anesthesia, this would usually happen in a hospital. This would only be for more complicated dental procedures. They would come under the care of an anesthesiologist and their team. 

The type of dental sedation that is best for your child will depend on their level of anxiety and activity level. It will also depend on the dental procedure they need.

Rest assured that your dentist has specialized training in this field. Your dentist will discuss all your options and only proceed when you are happy with the recommended form of sedation.

When Do Kids Need Dental Sedation?

Children are all individuals.

Some children may be happy to have procedures without sedation. These include fillings, root canal treatments, and extractions. Other children would simply not be able to tolerate this.

If your child is very anxious or active, then sedation may even be needed for pediatric teeth cleaning. Sedation can also help children with behavioral difficulties or special needs to get the dental care they need.

The key is to have open discussions with your dentist about what is best for your child. They will only recommend dental sedation if it is necessary. However, it is much better for your child to have sedation than to miss vital dental care. 

Is Dental Sedation Safe?

It’s natural to have questions about how safe dental sedation for kids is. After all, we are all aware that there are some risks involved in all forms of anesthesia. That said, the use of anesthetics is very common and the vast majority of uses pass without any issues.

Something that can provide parents with reassurance is the AAP Guidelines that were issued in July 2019. These guidelines address the management of pediatric sedation. They set out high standards that all dental professionals must follow.

The guidelines include the requirement that two medical professionals are present during sedation. This must be either:

  • An anesthesia professional
  • Another dentist, licensed and trained in anesthesia 

They will monitor the anesthesia while your child’s dentist focuses on the procedure. This additional safety precaution ensures that your child is safe throughout the procedure. 

Choose the best child dentist you can for your child. Ask your friends and research online reviews for other parents’ opinions.

Pediatric dentists complete a two-year pediatric dental residency. This includes training in dental sedation for kids. They follow these guidelines to the letter. 

What Can Parents Do?

The best thing to do before the procedure is to help your child to relax. Try not to show any anxiety you’re feeling. Do something that they enjoy and will keep them relaxed until it’s time for the sedation.

After sedation, your child will probably feel a bit groggy and may also feel nauseous. Don’t plan any other activities for the rest of the day. Allow them time for the sedation to wear off and start to feel more like themselves again. 

Your local pediatric dentist will give you specific advice based on the type of sedation your child has had. They will also advise you about the foods they should and shouldn’t eat during the recovery period.

If you are worried about your child’s symptoms after sedation, call the dentist. Very rarely, your child may start bleeding, vomiting, or running a fever. In these cases, seek medical advice straight away.

Choose Nolensville Pediatric Dentistry for Your Children

Dental sedation for kids is an amazing tool that dentists can use. It ensures that your child is spared needless anxiety. But at the same time, they will get the treatment that they need. 

Set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health. Bring them to visit Nolensville Pediatric Dentistry. Our experienced dentists specialize in putting children at ease and giving them the best quality dental care. 

We are fully trained in dental sedation for kids and follow the highest standards in this field.

Contact us on (615) 283-7397 to request an appointment.