People of all ages experience dental anxiety. Extreme fear of the dentist, dentophobia, is a common phobia that prevents many people from seeking the dental care they need. But there is a solution: sedation dentistry. Sedation allows patients to receive dental care without stress and fear.
Dentophobia is often present in children. Many children develop a fear of going to the dentist that is so intense that it is difficult and sometimes impossible for dentists and staff to administer dental care. Some children with special needs and health conditions require sedation to receive even basic preventative dental care.
Is sedation dentistry safe for children? In most cases, yes. But every patient is different and should be given individual consideration before sedation dentistry is applied.
Methods of Sedation Available to Children
Sedation comes in many forms, from minimal sedation to complete sedation. Here are the various sedation methods available to children for dentistry.
- Nitrous Oxide. The most common type of sedation for children is nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas.” This is administered through the nose, providing a feeling of relaxation and euphoria for the patient. The child is still awake and aware, but will not feel nervous or uncomfortable about what is happening.
- Oral Conscious Sedation. Children can take an oral sedative that will relax them. Typically they would take this before arriving for their appointment so that it has time to take effect. Oral conscious sedation allows the child to be awake and aware, just relaxed and maybe a bit sleepy. They can respond during their procedure, but they may not remember it.
- Intravenous Sedation. This is a deeper type of sedation administered through an IV. The child will be asleep, but not completely unconscious. They can respond to commands but will not remember their procedure. It feels like going to sleep and waking up a few minutes later even though more time has gone by.
- General Anesthesia. This type of sedation renders the patient completely unconscious. It is only used for complex, in-depth procedures like oral surgery and is typically only administered in a hospital setting.
The Safety of Sedation for Children
If you’re wondering if sedation is safe for your child, in most cases it is. Nitrous oxide, the safest form of sedation, is a mild sedative that wears off just a few minutes after the child stops breathing it in. It is usually followed up with pure oxygen to get the nitrous oxide gas out of the child’s system quickly. Your child will be able to return to normal activities or go back to school immediately following the procedure.
Oral conscious sedatives are also safe, but may take longer to wear off, so your child may need to rest at home for the remainder of the day under adult supervision.
Intravenous sedation is safe for most children, but it depends on the individual patient. You will want to discuss your child’s health history with your dentist to ensure it is safe for your child to receive IV sedation.
General anesthesia is rarely used for routine dental procedures, but of course there is always a small risk for any patient who undergoes it. Being completely unconscious requires breathing equipment to be used. If your child needs a complex procedure that requires general anesthesia, your dentist and anesthesiologist will perform a thorough health screening to ensure it is safe.
Dental Buddies of Vero Beach Provide Safe Sedation Dentistry for Children
At Dental Buddies of Vero Beach, we believe that the benefits outweigh the risks of sedation dentistry for children. It helps to relax children who are nervous about dental procedures so that they don’t develop dental anxiety or dentophobia. We offer Nitrous Oxide and Oral Conscious Sedation at our office. In most cases, nitrous oxide is the only form of sedation that is required. But if your child requires deeper sedation, we will discuss the options with you to determine the best course of action.