What is Dental Sedation and is it Safe for Kids?

Sometimes children require dental sedation while undergoing certain long or complex procedures, depending on their age or special needs.

There are three kinds of sedation available, and your pediatric dentists will decide which type is best on a case-by-case basis:

1. Oral sedation

Oral sedation is given by mouth or through the nose and can take around 20 minutes to work. While this form of sedation doesn’t put the child to sleep, it helps them relax.

2. Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, helps kids stay calm while remaining conscious. A mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen is administered through a breathing mask and allows the child to relax within five minutes. At the end of the procedure, the dentist may pump pure oxygen through the mask in order to clear out any remaining nitrous oxide. There are no lasting effects from the gas.

3. General anesthesia

General anesthetic is given through a needle on the back of your child’s hand. Often anesthesiologists will use nitrous oxide to relax the child to sleep before the needle is given, then a tube is inserted into their throat to aid breathing.

Preparing your Child for Sedation

It’s important to follow any guidelines provided by your dentist. Provide a full medical history ahead of time and be sure to note any breathing issues or allergies, as well as any drugs or supplements your child is currently taking. Notify the dentist if your child has a fever, ear infection or cold.

Avoid giving your child any food for at least six hours, and only water up to two hours before sedation to prevent the risk of vomiting. Dressing your child in loose-fitting clothing will enable dental staff to attach and access any monitors to track blood oxygen level, blood pressure, temperature and heart rate during the procedure. Make sure your child uses the bathroom before the procedure for obvious reasons!

During sedation

It’s a good idea to stay with your child and provide comfort by holding their hand, by talking or singing quietly, or bringing along their favourite stuffed animal. If possible, find alternative care for siblings so that you can focus your full attention on the child having the procedure.

After Sedation

When your child wakes after sedation, they may feel nauseous, confused and fussy. As the effects of sedation gradually wear off, your child will likely be clumsy, dizzy and sleepy so they should spend the day recovering at home rather than at school or daycare.

Encourage your child to drink sips of water to avoid dehydration. For the first few hours following the procedure, feed your child soft foods and monitor your child closely. If they experience vomiting, fever, severe pain or bleeding, you should contact your dentist immediately.

Sedation remains a safe and common practice. If you have any questions or concerns about sedation, Kids Dental Group would be happy to help. Contact Us or visit one of our convenient locations in Markham (905 294 0995), Richmond Hill (905 709 3888) or Stouffville (905 642 3642).

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