Dental sedation is a very safe procedure for children. Here’s how it works, and some details about safety precautions that parents can take to help make the process go more smoothly.
Why is my dentist recommending sedation for my child?
Dentists will often recommend sedation if the child is going to undergo long, complex procedures, or for patients who are especially young or nervous.
Dental sedation also allows children with special needs to get the dental treatment they need, treatment that might otherwise be extremely stressful for the child or even impossible.
Types of Sedation for Children
The 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 medication normally takes about 20 minutes to take effect. Oral sedation does not put patients to sleep, it helps them relax.
Nitrous oxide, frequently called laughing gas, helps children remain calm during dental treatment. Nitrous oxide is delivered via a mask and within a few minutes, the patient begins to feel relaxed and experience euphoric feelings. Pure oxygen is given to the patient to clear out any remaining nitrous oxide at the end of the procedure.
Intravenous sedation is delivered using a needle inserted into the patient's vein. Nitrous oxide is used first in order to send the child to sleep before a needle is inserted 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 procedures best if the parents understand what will happen and prepare the child ahead of time.
The Delta dentists at Surdel Dental Centre will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and will provide you with detailed instructions on how to prepare your child ahead of the appointment.
For example, your dentist will give you instructions for how to restrict food and drink prior to the sedation appointment.
In addition, dressing the child in comfortable 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. This is your opportunity to 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. While sedated, the patient's blood oxygen level, blood pressure, heart rate and temperature will be closely monitored.
We recommend that two adults 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 dizziness, loss of physical coordination, sleepiness and nausea, going back to school or daycare on the day of the appointment is absolutely not an option.
Parents should give the child only soft foods for the first few hours after the procedure. The child may continue caring for his teeth as normal as soon as the mouth has healed.