7 Tips for Parents on How to Talk to Their Child About Dental Sedation

Dental sedation for kids.

Time to Prepare

The idea of sedation can be nerve-wracking, no matter your age. It can be worse if you are one of the many parents who struggle with dental anxiety! But for a child, the idea of sedation can be terrifying if they don’t know what’s going on. If your child has a dental procedure coming up, it’s important to ensure they know what to expect. Ensuring they are prepared for dental sedation will help ease their anxiety and prepare them effectively.

If your child has a dental procedure coming up, don’t panic! Take a deep breath—you’ve got this! Here’s what your child needs to know before the big day arrives.

Explaining Dental Sedation

The first step is explaining what dental sedation is. Do your best to use age-appropriate language so they understand what you’re saying; the last thing you want is to use mile-long words! Be calm while you go over how sedation is done and what it feels like. This can be different, depending on what kind of sedation is used.

This level of communication will even help make regular dental visits easier and more comfortable.

Discussing Types of Sedation

There are multiple kinds of sedation here at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry, ranging from something light to help your child relax all the way to something that will help them sleep throughout the procedure.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is a gentle mask that your child will breathe in through a mask. This helps your child stay relaxed throughout the procedure.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation usually comes in the form of a pill, taken roughly an hour before the procedure begins. This will help your child feel calm throughout the procedure.

General Anesthesia in Office

General anesthesia is administered by an anesthesiologist here in the office. This form of dental sedation will let your child take a nap until the procedure is finished.

Hospital Anesthesia

Sometimes anesthesia is safest when used in a hospital setting, especially for longer procedures.

Using Positive Language

Though it might be difficult, it’s important to put aside your own fears and worries. If you’ve had a scary experience in the past and suffer from dental anxiety, now is not the time to mention it. Encourage your child by using positive, reassuring words. Your attitude toward dental care will affect your child’s.

Addressing Their Feelings and Concerns

Open yourself up to your child’s concerns or fears about dental sedation—yes, even if you’ve heard the same worry a million times. Answer them honestly, and research what you don’t know. You can bring them along on the journey for these answers. This teaches them that it’s okay not to know everything, and how to find what they need. Encourage them to talk to their dentist about these questions and concerns as well. This is an excellent time to teach them how to communicate with their providers—a skill that will last them a lifetime.

Reassuring Them of Their Safety

Throughout every step, reassure your child that they are safe and well cared for. Teach them that their dental team is on their side, not fighting against them; that even though the idea of dental sedation might make them nervous, it’s there to ensure that their entire experience is pain-free and comfortable.

Preparing Together

Make a game plan with your child, going through every step of the process. If they have to go without food for a certain amount of time, plan out exactly what they will eat while they are still allowed and when they get home from the procedure. If your little one has a favorite comfort toy or blanket, have your child help get them ready for the big day as well.

Aftercare Discussion

It can be easy to forget to explain what happens after the procedure. But if your child is put under sedation, it can be important to explain what it might feel like waking up. It’s also a good idea to discuss what your child should expect once they get home. Do they need to take any specific precautions while eating or drinking for a while? Again, answer any questions they might have. It’s important for them to fully understand the process. For this information, be sure to speak with their dentist as it varies from child to child.

Communication is key.

Dental anxiety is a common problem, no matter a person’s age. If a parent has their own anxieties surrounding the dentist, it can make it hard to discuss dental procedures with their child. Especially when these procedures include dental sedation.

Despite the fears and anxieties, it’s important that your child understands what is going on. This is the best way to set them up for success, lessening the chances of dental anxiety as they grow.

Remember that you can always ask us any questions here at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry that you might have. We want you and your children to feel confident in their dental care!