Dental sedation is a very safe procedure for children. Here are some details about safety precautions parents can take to make the process go more smoothly.
Why is my dentist recommending sedation for my child?
Often dentists will recommend sedation for children if a child is going to undergo a long, complex procedure, or if a child is especially nervous or young.
Dental sedation can also allow children with special needs to get the dental treatment they need, treatment that might otherwise be extremely stressful or even impossible.
Types of Sedation for Children
The primary types of sedation dentists most commonly use for children are the same as those used for adults: oral sedation, nitrous oxide and intravenous sedation.
Oral sedation is taken by mouth or through the nose when the patient arrives for the appointment and takes up to 20 minutes to kick in. Oral sedation helps patients to relax but won't put patients to sleep.
Frequently called laughing gas, nitrous oxide also helps children remain calm during dental treatment. Nitrous oxide is delivered via a mask, and within a few minutes, the patient begins to feel relaxed and experience euphoric feelings. Following the procedure, pure oxygen is given to the patient in order to clear out any remaining nitrous oxide.
Intravenous sedation is delivered through a needle inserted into the patient's vein. First nitrous oxide is used to send the child to sleep before a needle is inserted, usually into a vein on the back of the hand. A tube is also inserted into the patient's throat to aid breathing.
Safety Precautions for Children’s Dental Sedation
It is important for parents to understand what will happen at their child's dental sedation appointment in order for them to prepare the child ahead of time.
Your Langley dentists at Willowbrook Dental Clinic will provide you with detailed instructions on how to prepare your child ahead of the appointment, and will be happy to answer all your questions.
Your dentist will give you specific instructions for how to restrict your child's food and drink prior to the sedation appointment.
On appointment day it is a good idea to dress your child in loose fitting clothing. That will allow dental assistants to attach monitors quickly and without fuss.
You will also be asked to provide a full medical history for your child, and tell the dentist if the child is receiving any prescriptions, over-the-counter medication or herbal supplements.
Ensuring the patient's safety is paramount during dental sedation! While sedated, the patient's blood pressure, blood oxygen level, heart rate and temperature will be closely monitored.
Two adults should accompany the child or teen home — one to drive, and the other to monitor the child's breathing. Since some of the longer-lasting aftereffects of sedation include loss of physical coordination, dizziness, sleepiness and nausea, going back to school or daycare on the day of the appointment is not an option.
For the first few hours following the procedure, parents should give the child only soft foods. When the mouth has healed, the child may continue caring for his teeth as normal.