Sedation and Pediatric Dentistry
The Complexity of Pediatric Dentistry
Anxiety and fear are a common problem in pediatric dentistry. Children are not like adults; they differ in physiology, psychologically, and emotionally from adults. Children undergoing complex dental procedures can present challenging obstacles and safety concerns. When no alternative methods are available to control a child’s fear and anxiety, the use of sedatives can be an effective option to keep the child safe during a dental procedure.
Sedation in Pediatric Dentistry
Sedation dentistry is the use of calming drugs to manage special needs that arise from children receiving dental care. The safe sedation of children requires a high level of pre-sedation planning. Pre-sedation planning involves careful evaluation of a child’s airway for enlarged tonsils or abnormalities that may obstruct the airway, appropriate fasting guidance prior to sedation, how drugs may affect the child, proper sizing of airway equipment, properly equipped facility, and staff. Because of the complexity of sedation, your dentist will take a thorough medical history and physical evaluation of your child. In some cases, your child will need to be medically clear from a physician before undergoing sedation.
Types of Sedation Options
Depending on the need of your child and the complexity of the dental procedures, there are different sedative options to choose. The sedative options available from your dentist office can range from very weak sedation to general anesthesia.
Nitrous oxide gas is used as an inhalational anesthetic that relaxes muscles. Nitrous oxide is usually a common first choice of sedative drugs when they cannot tolerate local anesthesia and lengthy dental extraction procedures. Nitrous oxide has a rapid sedative onset and fast recovery because of its weak anesthetic effect. It is considered a very safe option because your child will remain awake, responsive, and can breathe on their own.
Your child can also take medication to induce a calm and soothing effect but will remain awake. Your child will be able to understand and listen to the dentist’s instructions. However, the use of oral medication can be challenging if the child refuses to take medicine.
Intranasal administration of sedative medication is a quick and simple route to deliver the drug. The medication is given as an aerosol using an aerosolization device.
Intravenous sedation requires the use of a needle that is inserted into your child’s veins. The medication is delivered intravenously and requires trained staff to monitor your child’s vital signs. Your child will sleep through the dental procedure and may be able to move but will not be able to breathe well on their own. A licensed and trained professional will evaluate your child condition after the procedure and determine when it is appropriate to go home.
Sedative dentistry provides an alternative delivery of high-quality dental care to your child when it is difficult to achieve from standard practice. Although sedation is an effective means to manage your child’s anxiety, you should carefully evaluate the options with your child’s dentist to understand the benefits, risks, and safety concerns.
Call your California Dental Group dentist today at (800) 407-0161 for any questions or concerns with sedation dentistry for your child.