Sedation Dentistry

There's so much that pediatric dentistry can do to make children's mouths healthier and  their smiles more beautiful.  It is possible to have a dental experience that's free of anxiety and pain. This can be accomplished by blocking sensations of pain with local anesthetics or by giving relaxing medications. Sometimes both are needed to ensure maximum comfort.

When children are afraid of dental treatment, their guard goes up and their pain threshold goes down; anticipating that something will hurt makes them hypersensitive to every sensation — even sound. Children may benefit from sedatives that can be given prior to dental treatment to help take some of  their anxiety away. Before any particular sedative is recommended, a complete dental examination and medical history is recorded. Depending on the type of sedative,  it may be neccessary for your child to refrain from school and all activities on the day of dental treamtent.

Ways to Relieve Anxiety

Oral sedation.Oral Sedation — Oral sedation (given by mouth) is a popular option for many people precisely because it does not require the use of needles. Oral sedatives are either swallowed in pill or liquid form. A variety of oral sedative and anxiolytic (anxiety-dissolving) medications have been developed through extensive research and testing to make your child's dental experience as comfortable and relaxing as possible. All have long safety records after decades of use, and several even have “amnesic” properties, meaning your child will remember little to nothing, even though they are conscious throughout the treatment. Commonly prescribed medications include Valium®, meperidine, Vistaril®, and Versed®. To learn more, view our chart on Types of Oral Sedatives

Inhalation Conscious Sedation — Nitrous oxide, a sedative you inhale, has been used in dental offices for nearly 100 years. It is a relatively poor pain reliever but a very good anti-anxiety medication. It is administered through a nasal hood, which resembles a small cup that is placed over your nose. The oxygen mixed with nitrous oxide provides a light-headed or even euphoric feeling, which is quick to wear off so there is no lasting effect. All bodily functions remain essentially normal during the use of this sedative, which is very safe.

IV Conscious Sedation — Sedatives delivered directly into the bloodstream intravenously (into the vein) are more potent than when taken orally, and the amnesic effects may be more profound. Because IV sedation has an almost immediate effect on the body and its functions — including heart rate, blood pressure and breathing — there is a higher degree of risk associated with it than with other types of sedatives. There is also a higher level of training required for those who administer it. As with all sedation (except nitrous oxide), you must be monitored with specialized equipment throughout your IV sedation treatment. The main advantage is that drugs administered this way work immediately and the level of sedation can be adjusted more quickly and easily. And with most sedatives, you won't remember a thing about your dental procedure after the sedative wears off.

General Anaesthesia -- Some children, because of their need for extensive treatment, acute situational anxiety, uncooperative age-appropriate behavior, immature cognitive functioning, disabilites, or medical conditions, would benefit under general anesthesia in  a day surgery setting , in the hospital. Prior to dental treatment, scheduled visits to the pediatrician and day surgery are required.

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