Going to the dentist isn’t easy for many adults, and for some children it can feel just plain scary, at least at first. Most kids are fine without sedation. Our compassionate team takes special care to work with anxious kids, but sometimes additional assistance becomes necessary to keep kids at ease.
The essential connection between dental and overall health has become more mainstream over the past several years in both the medical and dental communities. As that knowledge base continues to grow, the popularity of sedation dentistry increases at a similar pace. While dental anxiety and fears are common, the many possible negative consequences for avoiding the dentist are serious enough that people have taken note.
Sedation dentistry may be something to consider if you and Dr. K decide it is necessary and appropriate for your child’s age, individual circumstances, and specific dental procedure. Caring Tree Children’s Dentistry offers the options of nitrous oxide, oral sedation, or IV sedation. Dr. K will explain all the potential benefits and risks before you choose sedation for your child.
A common misconception about sedation dentistry is that it means putting a kid in the dental chair and making them completely unconscious, but there are different types and levels of sedation, and the ones offered by Caring Tree Children’s Dentistry are conscious sedation. It is recommended that parents exercise extreme caution when considering sedation for a child under three years old.
Conscious sedation controls pain and helps kids relax, but they remain awake—sleepy but conscious, breathing on their own, able to respond to the dentist and team, but in a dreamlike state. Time usually goes by quickly. Children typically return to their energetic selves within six hours of conscious sedation depending on the method of administration.
Pediatric dentists train for 2-3 additional years to learn safe sedation techniques. Sedation can alleviate general agitation in kids while enhancing feelings of contentment, which is particularly helpful with special needs children.
Sedation may be recommended for children with difficulty staying still, elevated stress levels, strong gag reflex, or other factors that prevent them from getting the care they need easily.
Conscious sedation is the most commonly used type for pediatric patients because they remain alert enough to respond to verbal cues. Kids usually return to their usual selves within six hours of conscious sedation depending on how it was administered.
Dr. K can work with you to decide if sedation dentistry is appropriate for your individual child and their situation.
Many people confuse sedation with anesthesia (medication for pain). Anesthesia is administered separately from sedation, as pain and physical discomfort are unaffected by sedation medicines, regardless of strength. Anesthesia is usually given by injection accompanied by a topical numbing agent that reduces the “poke” sensation. Even the heaviest form of conscious sedation – IV sedation – does not mean the patient will be unconscious during the procedure when used on its own.
Local anesthesia numbs specific regions of the body while blocking nerves, while general anesthesia involves complete loss of consciousness, putting the patient into a deep sleep where heart and breathing need assistance to continue. If a child is less than two years old, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends general anesthesia only be used in a hospital setting with medical support teams at the ready in case of emergency.
If you have any questions about sedation dentistry or you’re ready to schedule a visit with your pediatric sedation dentist, Dr. Michelle Kucera at Caring Tree Children’s Dentistry, give us a call today or request an appointment easily online below!