Is dental sedation safe for my child?

As kids grow up, they often start to develop fears of the unknown. And going to the dentist is one of those things that can make younger kids (and some adults) a bit uncomfortable. So what is a parent to do when their child doesn’t want to go to the dentist? The answer lies in sedation dentistry, a standard yet optional aid that helps patients relax before and during their dental treatments. Of course, this begs the question: Is dental sedation safe for my child?

Let’s get right to it. If you are asking if dental sedation is safe for your child, the answer is yes, dental sedation is safe for most children. However, before administering any sedation, your pediatric dentist will ask you about your child’s medical history to ensure that sedation is safe for your child. And this medical history plus the recommended dental treatment  determine which type of dental sedation is best in your child’s case.

Dentists often recommend sedation dentistry for children who have an extreme fear of the dentist (commonly referred to as dental anxiety). In other cases, a dentist may recommend sedation dentistry for kids who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • A large amount of needed dental work
  • Bad gag reflex
  • Inability to sit still in the dental chair
  • Low pain threshold
  • Sensitive teeth

It is important to note that general anesthesia carries a risk for anyone. In most cases, dental sedation is perfectly safe for kids. However, your child’s dentist will be sure to thoroughly review your child’s medical history to ensure the lowest possible risk.

Types of Dental Sedation for Kids

There are four types of dental sedation we offer here at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry in Salem.

Nitrous Oxide

Your child breathes this gas in via a tube placed over their nose. The effect of this gas is a euphoric feeling and a sense of deep relaxation. Some patients even laugh or giggle throughout the procedure. Nitrous oxide wears off quickly after the procedure, making it possible for your child to return to their usual activities once they leave the dental clinic.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Like nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation helps your child feel more relaxed, if not a bit sleepy. With this type of sedation, your child will take either a pill or liquid sedative about one hour before their appointment. Oral sedation takes longer to wear off than nitrous oxide, which means that they will likely need to rest at home afterward.

IV Sedation in the Dental Office

For lengthier dental treatments, the dentist may recommend IV sedation in the office. In this case, an anesthesiologist comes in to administer it, thus saving parents the hospital fees that would be charged for anesthesia administered in the hospital. In most cases, the patient will fall asleep as a result of the sedation but will not be completely unconscious. The dentist will be able to ask your child questions during the procedure. After the dental treatment wraps up, your child will be brought back to full consciousness quickly and likely will not remember the treatment at all. Their kids’ dentist will recommend that they rest at home for the rest of the day.

Hospital Anesthesia

The fourth type of sedation dentistry is hospital anesthesia. The main difference between this and IV sedation, besides that it is administered at the hospital, is that hospital sedation is true general anesthesia, meaning your child will be completely unconscious. For safety reasons, trained hospital staff monitor patients closely, and if there is medical reason, your child may stay overnight.

Your kids’ dentist in Salem, Oregon, offers safe sedation dentistry.

Parents often fear sedation dentistry will be a hassle, especially if their child requires more than nitrous oxide. But the truth is that today’s approach to sedation dentistry is easier than ever and carries little risk. And the consequences of not receiving necessary dental treatment can have long-term health effects on your child and their overall health.

So if your child has dental anxiety or other factor that makes dental appointments a challenge, now is the time to consider sedation dentistry. Take the first step today by requesting an evaluation with Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry. We look forward to meeting you and your child and giving them a safe and comfortable dental experience.