What Is Sedation Dentistry for Children?
Sedation dentistry refers to the use of medically induced relaxation techniques during dental procedures. Sedation may be used for a variety of reasons from lengthy, complex procedures to easing anxiety for nervous patients.
Benefits of Sedation Dentistry for Children
Children can benefit from sedation dentistry in a variety of ways:
- Soothe anxiety. Children who are anxious or fearful about receiving dental care can relax with the help of sedation.
- Reduced need for anesthesia. Sedation can mean that less local anesthesia is needed for procedures.
- Procedures seem shorter. Lengthy procedures seem shorter for the patient with the help of sedation. It can make it easier for children to sit still for longer periods of time.
- Patients with special needs. Patients with special needs can sometimes benefit from the use of sedation to reduce the stress of the experience.
Types of Sedation We Provide
We offer the following sedation options:
- Nitrous oxide. The most commonly used sedation option for children is nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a gas that is inhaled through a mask worn over the nose. It provides a calming sensation that helps children relax. It takes effect quickly and wears off quickly as the child breathes normal room air.
- Conscious sedation. An oral sedative is used to achieve conscious sedation. There are a few different medications used for oral sedation, and they come in pill or liquid form. The child should take the sedative prior to their appointment so that it has time to take effect. They may feel groggy or sleepy while under sedation, but will still be awake. The effects of the sedative may take a few hours to wear off after the procedure, so the child should rest at home for the remainder of the day.
- IV sedation. A sedative can be administered intravenously that provides a deeper level of sedation. The child will still be conscious enough to respond to questions and requests, but may not remember anything about the procedure afterwards. This type of sedation is often used for complex or lengthy procedures, or for children who have extreme difficulty receiving dental treatment.
- Outpatient general anesthesia. For some procedures a deeper level of sedation is needed. Outpatient general anesthesia is performed in a hospital setting under the care of an anesthesiologist. The child will be completely unconscious during the procedure, but will still go home the same day in most cases.
FAQs About Sedation Dentistry for Children
How long does it take sedation to wear off?
It depends on the type of sedation. Nitrous oxide takes effect and wears off in just a few seconds to a few minutes at the most. Oral sedation and IV sedation may take a few hours to wear off. General anesthesia can leave the patient feeling tired or groggy much longer because they were more deeply sedated, but they should feel more like their usual self by the next day.
What’s the difference between IV sedation and general anesthesia?
While under IV sedation the patient will feel as if they are asleep and likely won’t remember anything about the procedure, but they can still speak and respond to requests. General anesthesia renders the patient completely unconscious so that they cannot talk or move. General anesthesia must be administered in a hospital setting, but IV sedation can be used in the dentist’s office.
What does nitrous oxide feel like?
Most patients describe it as a euphoric feeling. Legs and arms may feel heavy and the fingers and toes may feel tingly. Overall the patient will feel relaxed and calm.
When can my child return to school and normal activities after sedation?
Again, it depends on the type. After nitrous oxide most children can resume their regular activities immediately after leaving the dental office. For oral sedation, IV sedation, and general anesthesia, it is best to refer to your dentist regarding activity after sedation.