Sedation Dentistry for Kids
For many, the prospect of undergoing certain dental procedures such as roots canals and wisdom tooth extractions, can be terrifying. Some others, however, find that even a routine checkup and cleaning can cause anxiety. Some may find it so stressful that they willingly endure the pain of a toothache or other issue, rather than go to their dentist. Many will forgo treatment rather than seek treatment of any kind. For them, sedation dentistry may prove helpful. When it comes to their children, however, they may have some concerns. Is sedation dentistry for kids safe?
What is Sedation Dentistry for Kids?
We should begin by understanding what sedation dentistry involves. It is essentially what it sounds like: the child is sedated to help them relax. There are different levels of sedation, depending on the procedure and the child’s level of anxiety:
- Minimal Sedation. With minimal sedation, the child remains conscious, but is more relaxed. They will be able to respond when spoken to and will respond to tactile stimulation.
- Moderate Sedation. When moderately sedated, your child will likely slip in and out of consciousness, though they can be woken with a touch or in response to sound.
- Deep Sedation. With deep sedation, your child will be fully unconscious and will not respond to touch or sound.
Combined with pain medication, sedation can help your child remain calm and comfortable during dental procedures. The sedation medication can be administered orally in the form of a pill, through a small breathing mask, or through injection.
- Oral sedation is used for relaxation but does not put the child to sleep. The child will ingest a pill prior to the procedure and wait for it to take effect.
- Gas. A breathing mask may be used to have your child inhale nitrous oxide (laughing gas). This keeps your child calm and relaxed, reducing anxiety within minutes. At the end of the procedure, pure oxygen will eliminate any remaining nitrous oxide.
- Intravenous sedation can put your child to sleep. They will likely not remember the procedure once it is done. The potential drawback to this form of sedation is that your child may be afraid of needles.
When is Sedation Dentistry Recommended?
The type and length of procedure, along with the needs of the particular child, will determine if sedation is appropriate. It can be useful for children who are extremely anxious, or for those who have special needs of behavioural issues that could negatively impact the procedure. It can also help to avoid unnecessary discomfort during more painful procedures.
Is Sedation Dentistry for Kids Safe?
Sedation will only be administered by qualified professionals who are well-versed in the appropriate level of sedation for your child. It is a common and safe practice, though there are some risk factors to be aware of. For example, enlarged tonsils may increase the chance of the airway being obstructed and children under six have a higher chance of adverse events. Special consideration must also be given to children who are overweight or obese.
All-in-all, sedation dentistry for kids can be extremely helpful for children who are nervous or anxious about visiting the dentist.
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