Sedation dentistry utilizes different types of medication to help patients to relax and stay calm during a dental procedure. If your child has anxiety about going to the dentist or has had bad experiences with another provider, sedation dentistry can make them feel more comfortable. Sedation can be used for a simple tooth cleaning to more serious invasive procedures.
Types of Sedation
There are several different types of sedation that can be used in dentistry depending on the procedure:
- Inhaled sedation. Your child will breathe nitrous oxide, which is sometimes referred to as “laughing gas.” Inhaled via a mask that is placed over the nose, this sedative technique will help your child to relax. The gas tends to wear off quickly, and we are in constant control of the amount that your child receives.
- Oral sedation. Depending on the situation, oral sedation may be the best option to help your child through his dental procedure. An oral pill can be taken for minimal sedation about an hour before the procedure, and most patients will feel tired or groggy throughout the procedure.
- IV sedation. In these scenarios, your child will receive a sedative drug via a vein, so the effects will occur almost immediately. We are able to continually adjust your child’s level of sedation with this option.
- General anesthesia. Also known as deep sedation, this option provides medication to make your child sleep deeply throughout the procedure for maximum comfort.
Regardless of the type of sedation that is used, most patients will also require a local anesthetic, which serves as a numbing medication to relieve pain at the site of the dental injury or problem.
Preparing for Sedation
If it has been determined that your child will have some type of sedation during his dental appointment, it is crucial that you follow dental instructions carefully. There are important rules regarding eating and drinking during the hours leading up to the procedure that must be followed. For some of the stronger sedative options, children will often need to avoid solid foods beginning at midnight the night before the appointment. Only clear liquids should be offered up until two hours prior to the scheduled procedure.
After your child’s procedure has been completed, you will be called into the room to be with your child as the medication wears off. The amount of time that the medication takes to wear off will vary, and some children take significantly longer to become alert. Your child might be confused initially, and all reactions are normal and will ease as the sedative medication wears off.
After you return home, your child should try to take it easy for the remainder of the day. Only feed him soft foods for the first couple of hours after the procedure. If your child has sore gums, Motrin or Tylenol can help to ease discomfort, but you should be sure to contact the dental office immediately if your child experiences vomiting, severe pain, fever, or severe bleeding of the gums.