Is Sedation Dentistry Safe for Children?

Team Sedation Dentistry

Going to the dentist can be a scary event for children. Some children are visibly anxious or shaky in the dentist's chair when they're required to remain relaxed and still for a dental procedure. If this describes your child and you're wondering if sedation dentistry is safe for them, the answer is, "Yes." Sedation dentistry allows your child to continue receiving dental services to maintain healthy teeth and gums. It can even reduce fear of the dentist over time.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry refers to the use of mild sedatives to manage anxiety in children receiving dental care. The drugs produce a calming effect and allow the dentist to safely treat your child. Your child will remain awake and may not even remember the procedure. Sedation is also used when complex or multiple procedures need to be performed at once and for children with a strong gag reflex or special needs.

When Do Children Need Dental Sedation?

Your child may need sedation for conditions such as severe tooth decay, dental pain, or dental abscess. These are serious conditions that can impact your child's health and quality of life. Your pediatric dentist may also recommend sedatives if your child needs a cavity filled, a root canal, or tooth extraction. In many cases, the benefits of sedation outweigh the health risks. Sedatives won't treat pain. The dentist will need to administer medication to manage pain or discomfort during and after the procedure.

Types of Dental Sedation for Kids

The type of sedation used can range from a mild sedative, such as nitrous oxide, to general anesthesia.

  • Nitrous oxide: Also called “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a mild, safe sedative that will help your child relax. It's a safe and effective technique to reduce anxiety, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The medication is mixed with oxygen and delivered through a mask. The sedation takes effect within 5 minutes but the mask will remain in place throughout the procedure.
  • Oral sedatives: Oral sedatives can be taken by mouth or via the nose and offer mild to moderate sedation for children who are nervous. The medicine keeps them calm and relaxed, but slightly drowsy. It takes about 20 minutes for the medicine to start working.
  • General anesthesia: If laughing gas or oral sedatives will not be effective for the procedure that needs to be done, general anesthesia can be used. Anesthesia must be administered under the direction of a board-certified anesthesiologist. Your child will be in a deep sleep during the procedure and will be continuously monitored until it's completed. They won’t feel pain or remember the procedure.

Your dentist will explain how to prepare your child for sedation before arriving at the office. Preparation varies based on the type of sedation technique being used.

Providing Safe Pediatric Dental Care

Sedation dental care puts your child at ease and allows them to get the effective care they need. Our experienced pediatric dentist will examine your child and review their health history to determine if they are a good candidate for sedation. We use child-friendly practices and will keep your child safe throughout treatment. Our dental team will never move ahead until you have that peace of mind knowing your child is in safe hands. Contact us today at 519-821-3561 to schedule an appointment at Bisson Dentistry.