When your child requires dental work, you are right to be concerned about the type of sedation used. Children can be squirmy little creatures, and most dental procedures require very precise movements. In most cases, your child has to have some type of sedation, but the question is what and how? To help you know more about dental sedation used on children, read on.
Know What to Expect
Whether you see a pediatric dentist or your family dentist, be sure you understand what type of sedation your child will be receiving and who will be in charge of administering it. In most cases, the type of procedure and the age of the child will pay a part in the decision. Longer and more complicated procedures might call for longer-lasting sedation choices, for example. An older child might be able to use lighter methods of pain relief as long as they can remain fairly still for the needed period of time. Children with behavioral issues may need more sedation regardless of their age. Keep in mind that not only should the method used be safe but also do the job well enough not to traumatize the child about future dental procedures. A bad childhood experience could set the stage for later dental health issues by causing dentist avoidance problems.
Numbing Injections – Adults are not fond of needles in any form, but children may not even notice what is happening beyond a minor pinch. Novocaine and other mild painkilling drugs are safe and effective, but they aren't appropriate for keeping children still. Numbing injections can be used in combination with some other forms of sedation mentioned below.
Nitrous Oxide – Also known as laughing gas, this choice won't put your child to sleep but can be used as a relaxation aid to lessen anxiety or prevent the child from moving around. Laughing gas is administered using a mask and is inhaled. Nitrous oxide wears off quickly with no side-effects.
Oral Sedatives – For older children who are anxious about a procedure, a sedative can be given prior to the visit to help them feel more calm and relaxed. Some children will fall asleep as a result of a sedative, and that is perfectly normal. While most mild sedatives have little effect on the pulmonary and cardiovascular system, children may have some muscle coordination issues and not remember anything about the visit.
Deep Sedation – The highest level of sedation is the intravenous (IV) form. Often, a specially trained nurse anesthesiologist is present for this type of sedation. If your child has IV sedation, expect it to take several hours to fully wear off.
Discuss the above options with your children's dentist before your child's appointment.