Sedation dentistry is the use of medication to help a patient relax during a dental procedure. It allows dental procedures to be performed in a safe environment and allows for a positive experience. This is especially true when patients are in need of extensive dental treatment, for the anxious child or special needs child.
The main benefits of sedation dentistry is to reduce fear and anxiety around treatment allowing work to be done all at once. Sedation may be useful to decrease the gag reflex in sensitive patients allowing patients to remain calm and relaxed throughout the dental procedures. Sedation dentistry can give the patient an overall positive dental experience and this can lead to a lifelong decrease in dental fear.
There are different forms of sedation dentistry our office can provide:
Nitrous oxide is a gas and oxygen mixture that the patient breathes in. Nitrous oxide is administered through a mask that is placed over the nose. With nitrous oxide administration, the child is awake and alert and free to communicate. However most children are relaxed during the duration of the procedure. As nitrous oxide wears off quickly with minimal side effects, children can go directly to school or other activities. While it is not a great idea to have a huge meal directly prior to any dental treatment, it is completely safe to eat prior to and immediately after administering the nitrous oxide.
During IV sedation, your child will be completely asleep for all of the dental treatment. The IV sedation medications are administered and monitored by a board-certified MD anesthesiologist and their assistant. Your child is fully monitored with hospital grade monitors and techniques. The procedure begins with no needles and your child has no memory of any dental treatment. After your child is asleep and fully monitored, typically all dental treatment or extractions are performed during one visit. IV sedation provides a safe and efficient environment for treatment. Children wake up next to a guardian in the recovery room and may return to normal activities the next day. While most of our patients are seen unsedated, our office team have performed thousands of IV sedations in our locations.
SEDATION DENTISTRY FAQS
Any child with extensive dental needs, children with high anxiety or fear, and children with special needs that cause an inability to sit in a dental chair for treatment could be a candidate for sedation dentistry.
There are minimal side effects with sedation dentistry. Typically with nitrous oxide, children don’t have any negative effects and return to normal activities immediately after treatment. The amount of sedation is controlled by the doctor and may be lowered or raised as needed. For IV sedation with our anesthesiologist, the most common side effects are headaches and nausea. The anesthesiologist will give your child medicine for both of these common side effects. Children wake up and go home about 30 minutes or less after sedation and may be cranky for a few hours. Later that day the child is completely normal and the remainder of the day is good for light activities. All activities and school or daycare may be resumed the next day.
Your child’s dentist will discuss the different types of sedation dentistry after taking a medical history to determine on an individual basis the most successful and safest way to treat your child.