What is Children's Sedation?
Sedation dentistry or oral sedation is the use of a mild sedative to manage anxiety, special needs, or simply a child's young age while your child receives dental care. Sedation may also be used when several procedures need to be done at the same time, when the safety of a child may be compromised, or if your child has a strong “gag” reflex.
Nitrous oxide is also called "laughing gas." Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless gas that has been deemed safe for use in children by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. For children who experience fear and anxiety about dentist visits and procedures, have a short attention span or difficulty following instructions and sitting still, have a strong gag reflex that could interfere with the dentist’s ability to perform routine procedures, or have special health care needs. It is the least invasive, most mild form of sedation and can help to relax and soothe your child allowing them to remain calm during routine cleanings, fillings, or other procedures. Being relaxed during dental procedures not only ensures their physical safety, but encourages a positive dental experience and better overall dental care.
Oral Conscious Sedation makes your child a bit sleepier. Conscious sedation can have a mild to moderate effect, all controlled by the medication dosage. Kids under conscious sedation are sleepy, but they can usually follow commands given by the dentist, such as "open," "bite down," etc.
Under conscious sedation, patients are still breathing on their own. Therefore, Pediatric or general dentists can administer this type of sedation on their own. After the dental treatment, the child will wake somewhat quickly and remember very little about the procedure, if anything.
General Anesthesia / IV Sedation
When your child needs extensive dental work or they are too young to have more advanced dental work, general anesthesia is needed. General anesthesia requires an IV to deliver the sedative. While general sedation can be administered in a dental office, specially-trained professionals like anesthesiologists are usually on-site to deliver the sedative and help monitor the patient's vitals while the dentist performs the treatment. Your child will be completely asleep during general anesthesia and will not remember the procedure. The anesthesiologist will help transition your child from sedation back into a wakeful state and make sure they are safe to go home.