In recent years, many advancements have been made in sedation drug therapy. As a result, sedation dentistry is now considered to be a safe option for pediatric dentists specializing in the treatment of kids and teens that experience bouts of anxiety and fear when undergoing dental procedures.
This is especially beneficial for youth who must have fillings, extractions, and similar invasive treatments – all of which are becoming increasingly popular among those under the age of 18.
While there are sedation treatments that involve the loss of consciousness, more and more pediatric dentists are finding that it is completely possible to utilize conscious sedation. This means that the sedation calms the child or teen, but allows them the ability to breathe independently and respond to most environmental stimuli.
Let’s talk about important facts regarding sedation dentistry for kids.
Types of Sedation Dentistry
Local anesthesia is considered to be the most common and simplest of all pediatric sedation options. This is given via a shot around the area that the pediatric dentist will be working within the mouth. It blocks out the nerves so that pain cannot be felt. Once it takes effect, the area where the local anesthesia was placed will become numb.
This type of sedation is provided to a child through a drinkable syrup or a pill form. Once the substance takes effect within the body, the pediatric patient will become relaxed for the dental procedure that is to be performed. In most instances, this medication is provided to the child at least 30 minutes prior to the procedure. The effects last from as little as 2 hours to as long as 6 hours.
Nitrous Oxide is a pediatric dentistry sedation option that is appropriate for children that have anxiety in regards to dental procedures. This form of sedation is often referred to as “laughing gas”. If a child has a severe phobia of dentistry or moves around often, this is not considered to be an appropriate form of sedation. Children who are given this form of sedation will be aware of their surroundings and will likely remember all that occurred during the procedure.
IV sedation is the practice of providing pre-measured doses of medications that aid in eliminating anxiety. It also includes anesthetics. Children who receive this type of sedation will not have any recollection of the events that transpired and will not be aware of their surroundings. If a child receives this type of sedation, they will be consistently monitored until the effects of the medications have worn off.
This form of sedation is not appropriate for all dental procedures as the child is placed into a deep sleep. In most instances, this is reserved for babies, major procedures, kids that have high levels of anxiety, special needs, and similar situations. This type of anesthesia may be administered through an IV, or through an inhalation mask. Additionally, the child may have to have a breathing tube while on the anesthesia in order to protect the airway while the dental work is being performed.
When a child or a teenager arrives at the pediatric dentistry office where they will have their procedure performed, they will undergo a pre-sedation based physical. At this point, a syrup-based medication that is sedative in nature will be administered.
Once the child is fully sedated, they will be monitored throughout the procedure. The pediatric dentist and their staff will watch all vital signs. This includes the rate of the heart, the rate of breathing, the blood pressure, the level of blood oxygen, as well as the body temperature.
Once the procedure is finished, the child or teen will be released once all of the vital signs have returned to normal levels.