Dental sedation is a very safe procedure for children. Here’s how it works, and some details about safety precautions parents can take to make the process go more smoothly.
Why is my dentist recommending sedation for my child?
Dentists may recommend sedation for children if they are going to undergo long, complex procedures, or for patients who are especially young or nervous.
In addition, dental sedation can allow children with special needs to get the dental treatment they need, treatment that might otherwise be extremely stressful or even impossible.
Types of Sedation for Children
The primary types of sedation dentists most commonly use for children are the same as those used for adults: oral sedation, nitrous oxide and intravenous sedation.
Oral sedation is taken by mouth or through the nose when the patient arrives for the appointment. The medicine normally takes up to 20 minutes to kick in. Oral sedation doesn't put patients to sleep, it just helps them relax.
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, also helps children remain calm during dental treatment. It is delivered via a mask, and within a few minutes, the patient begins to feel relaxed and experience euphoric feelings. At the end of the procedure, pure oxygen is given to the patient to clear out any remaining nitrous oxide.
Intravenous sedation is delivered through a needle inserted into the patient's vein. Nitrous oxide sends the child to sleep before a needle is inserted, usually into a vein on the back of the hand. A tube is also inserted into the patient's throat to aid breathing.
Safety Precautions for Children’s Dental Sedation
Children tend to tolerate sedation dental procedures best if the parents understand what is happening and prepare the child ahead of time.
Your Delta dentists at Scot72 Dental Centre will provide you with detailed instructions on how to prepare your child ahead of the appointment, and will be happy to answer all your questions.
For instance, your dentist will give you instructions for how to restrict food and drink before the sedation appointment.
In addition, dressing the child in loose-fitting clothing will allow dental assistants to attach monitors quickly and without fuss.
You will also be asked to provide a full medical history for your child, and tell the dentist if the child is receiving any prescriptions, over-the-counter medication or herbal supplements.
At our Delta dental office, ensuring the patient's safety is paramount during dental sedation. While sedated, the patient's blood pressure, blood oxygen level, heart rate and temperature will be closely monitored.
Two adults should accompany the child or teen home — one to drive, and the other to monitor the child's breathing. Since some of the longer-lasting aftereffects of sedation include loss of physical coordination, dizziness, sleepiness and nausea, going back to school or daycare on the day of the appointment is definitely not an option.
For the first few hours after the procedure, parents should give the child only soft foods. When the mouth has healed, the child may continue caring for his teeth as normal.