Is Sedation Dentistry Safe for Children?

Our Dental Blog | Child Dentistry, Info & tips | 06.16.2021

For some, a visit to the dentist can be an anxiety-filled experience. Teeth clenching and body sweat-inducing, fear of dental appointments are quite common, especially amongst children. This anxiety can be so bad that people will skip their dentist visits regularly. 

Luckily, dentists are aware of these fears and have ways to reduce the anxiety of their patients enough for invasive procedures to be completed without complications. 

The most common practice to lull patient distress is through sedation dentistry – the use of medication to help patients relax, and sometimes even sleep, through their dental procedures.  

If your child has never experienced sedation dentistry you might have some concerns. Is it safe for children? What type of sedation will be used? And what are some side effects or conditions associated with sedation dentistry? 

Well, let’s get to it. 

Types of Sedation

Depending on your dental history, you may have only experienced one or two forms of dental sedation, however, there are ranges of sedation as well as different types of sedation that dentists can use.

In terms of ranges, sedation can range from minimal to deep – from fully awake and a bit relaxed, to fully unconscious and unaware of the procedure taking place. 

Typically, the range of sedation will be dependent on your comfortability and the type of dental work being done (for example, tooth extraction vs dental cleaning). You may find that you or your child only needs local anesthesia for a simple procedure, where another individual may need to be unconscious due to anxieties and fears. 

Types of sedation include oral, inhaled, or intravenous (IV) sedation. Pills are often used when minimal to moderate sedation is required. It is possible for a child or adult to fall asleep during this style of sedation, but fear not, patients are easily waked.

Inhaled sedation is probably the most common technique, especially for pediatric dentists. As the name suggests, specific gases are passed into the cardiovascular system via the lungs. 

In dentistry, inhale sedation is synonymous with laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide/oxygen. Laughing gas has a long history of safety in providing conscious sedation and is traditionally used to calm anxious patients. Inhaled sedation, however, is not a replacement for local anesthetics.

The last sedation technique is done intravenously, where medicine is passed directly into the bloodstream. IV sedation is genuinely reserved for adults and cases of surgeries. Just like dentists, needles don’t favour well amongst children, but IV sedation will be the most accurate dose possible and allows for dentists to adjust sedation levels on the go. 

Regardless of the type of sedation, most procedures will include a local anesthetic to numb the pain at the site where the dentist is working in the mouth.  

Who is Sedation Dentistry Suitable for?

If your child is ever anxious or fidgety around dental visits, sedation might be right for them. For a dentist to do their job accurately, the patient needs to sit still for a while, and that is not always possible when it comes to extreme anxiety.

Other cases of sedation can include those with poor gag reflexes, low pain thresholds, or extremely sensitive teeth. 

In some scenarios, a dentist may even recommend sedation where a large amount of dental work is needed to be completed. 

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

In general, sedation dentistry is very safe, however, that does not mean there are no concerns to be aware of. 

Certain people, such as those who are obese, experience obstructive sleep apnea, or have diabetes can develop complications from anesthesia. 

It is important to speak to your pediatric dentist about your child’s pre-existing health concerns and medical history to ensure they are suitable for sedation dentistry. 

Where Can I Learn More About Sedation Dentistry?

The best way to learn about sedation dentistry for children is to get it straight from the horse’s mouth. Treehouse Dental Care is more than happy to ensure comfortability for both you and your child by providing you all the information you would ever need on our sedation techniques. 

We pride ourselves on personable and professional care for each one of our patients, and that includes keeping our patients educated on our processes. If you have any questions for us, call today! 

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