Dental sedation is a very safe procedure for children. Here’s a little about 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 might recommend sedation for children when they are going to undergo long, complex dental procedures, or for patients who are especially nervous or young.
Also, dental sedation can allow children with special needs to get the 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 their appointment. The medication normally takes up to 20 minutes to work. Oral sedation does not put patients to sleep, it just helps them relax.
Nitrous oxide, sometimes called laughing gas, also helps children remain calm during dental treatment. Nitrous oxide is delivered via a mask, and within a few minutes, the patient will begin 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 using a needle that is 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 generally tolerate sedation dental procedures best if the parents understand what is happening and prepare the child in advance of the appointment.
Our dentists at Guildford Heights 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 example, 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 a fuss.
You will be asked to provide a full medical history for your child, and let us know if the child is receiving any prescriptions, over-the-counter medication or herbal supplements.
At our Surrey 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 following the procedure, parents should give the child soft foods only. Once the mouth has healed, the child may continue caring for his teeth as normal.