Between 50% and 80% of adults in the US have some degree of dental anxiety. Over 20% of dentally anxious patients avoid seeing a dentist regularly as a result. Avoiding the dentist could lead to a greater need for more extensive treatment in the future. 

Helping your child feel calm around our dental team at a young age could set them up for success. They won’t have to miss appointments.

Otherwise, missing appointments could cause them to neglect their oral health, even into adulthood.

Before that can happen, consider our sedation dentistry for kids. Sedation pediatric dentistry can help keep your child calm for a procedure. 

What exactly is sedation dentistry? How can you prepare your child for their upcoming appointment? Keep reading to find out!

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

First, let’s go over the basics. What exactly is sedation dentistry for kids?

Sedation dentistry uses a mild sedative to manage your child’s anxiety while they receive dental care. It’s also used to manage a child’s special needs during an appointment. Our dentists might also suggest sedation when:

  • They need to complete several procedures at the same time
  • The safety of your child could become compromised
  • Your child has a strong gag reflex

As your kids’ dentist, we can provide sedation services at our dental office.

It’s important to note that sedation medication won’t ease discomfort or pain. The dentist might also suggest an injection in the treatment area to minimize pain symptoms. 

Sedation medicine can last up to six hours after a procedure. 

Once they grow older, your child might decide to rely on sedation dentistry services as an adult, too. 

Nearly 50% of patients have avoided a dental appointment at some point due to fear or anxiety. Today, adults rely on sedation dentistry for procedures like cleanings, fillings or crowns, periodontal surgery, and extractions.

Types of Sedation

Consider scheduling a consultation appointment with your kids’ dentist to determine if sedation dentistry for kids is right for their needs.

Our dentists might suggest different types of sedation. Here are a few options they might recommend, based on your child’s unique needs. 

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, also called “laughing gas,” can help your child feel relaxed during their dental appointment. Nitrous oxide is a mild sedative.

Your kids’ dentist will provide your child with a mask before their procedure. The mask will carry oxygen mixed with the sedation medicine. Then, your child will breathe in through their nose.

They might note a subtle, sweet smell.

Your child will keep the mask on throughout the duration of the procedure. The medicine should take effect within five minutes. Your child will remain awake during the procedure.

Once the treatment is complete, your child will breathe in pure oxygen for about five minutes. Pure oxygen will help clear away any remaining gas.

Afterward, try to limit your child to a light meal, such as toast.

Oral Sedatives

Oral sedatives may also be an option.

Your child can take an oral sedative through the mouth or nose. The medicine will likely make them a little drowsy. They’ll feel relaxed and calm during the procedure as a result.

If you choose this form of sedation dentistry for kids, it’s important to follow your dentists’ recommendations closely to avoid unnecessary nausea. Some dentists may recommend that your child doesn’t eat or drink after midnight before the appointment. 

IV Sedation

Intravenous (IV) sedation for your child may also be an option for sedation dentistry.

IV sedation requires a dentist to insert a needle into your child’s vein (usually in their hand or arm). The dentist can give your child more medication as needed during the procedure. The medication will help your child remain relaxed during the appointment. 

Often, this form of sedation is reserved for more extensive dental procedures and will take place under the care of a specially trained medical team. 

Preparing at Home

Make sure to talk to us before their sedation dentistry appointment. Your dentist will usually instruct you on how to prepare beforehand.

For example, you might need to follow rules regarding eating and drinking before the procedure. The instructions can vary based on your child’s age.

Usually, infants under 12 months can receive formula six hours before the scheduled arrival time. Breastfed babies can usually nurse up to four hours before their appointment. 

Children, however, usually shouldn’t eat after midnight before the procedure. They might need to avoid consuming any solid foods or non-clear liquids.

It’s possible they can have clear liquids up to two hours before the appointment. Milk is not a clear liquid. Clear liquids include water, Kool-Aide, and apple juice.

Ask a doctor or nurse to determine if it’s safe for your child to take medication beforehand.

Talk to us about ways to soothe your child before their appointment. For example, you might want to play to bring their favorite toy. You can also hold their hand or talk to them during the procedure. 

During the Appointment

A member of our dental staff will likely meet you to record your child’s medical history, weight, and vital signs. You’ll likely need to sign a consent form before your child receives the sedation medication.

We want to ensure your child’s visit is enjoyable and safe. During the procedure, the dentist will monitor your child’s blood oxygen level, temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. With sedation dentistry, your child won’t have to fear appointments. Instead, we’ll ensure they’re at ease throughout every phase of their treatment. 

We’re passionate about taking care of your child’s smile. Reach out to discuss sedation dentistry with a member of our team today.

After Sedation

Once the procedure is complete, you can remain with your child until the medication begins to wear off. How long the process takes can vary.

Children react differently when coming out of sedation. For example, some feel sick or confused while others may be back to their normal self within a few hours. These reactions are normal and should fade as the medication wears off.

Make sure your child takes it easy for the rest of the day. Their gums and mouth might feel sore.

Although rare, it’s important to be on the lookout for fever, severe bleeding, or severe pain after your child’s procedure. If any of these symptoms develop, call your child’s pediatric dentist right away.

Sedation Dentistry for Kids: Everything You Need to Know

Learning more about sedation dentistry for kids could help you help your child. Consider scheduling a consultation with our pediatric dentist. We’ll help you determine if sedation is ideal for your child’s next appointment. 

Want to discuss sedation dentistry with a member of our team? We’re happy to help.

Contact our pediatric dentistry practice today to get started.