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Exploring Safe Dental Sedation Options for Children

Posted on 10/15/2015 by Allan Hablutzel
A young girl about to receive nitrous oxide for her dental treatment.Regardless of whether your child will be having a major dental procedure completed or is simply nervous about going to the dentist, there are a variety of effective and safe dental sedation options available to him. Your dentist will help you to explore the best sedation option for him and his unique situation, but it is important to know what choices area available.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is the most popular form of sedation in the field of dentistry, and it may also be known as laughing or happy gas. This is a good sedation option for children with moderate or mild anxiety, or it can be used for patients who are only in need of routine care. Laughing gas is administered via a mask placed over the nose, and it works quickly, providing fast anxiety relief that will also wear off in only a few minutes after the mask is removed.

This sedation technique is extremely safe and effective. The gas is mild and can be easily handled for both young and old dental patients. It is also non-addictive, and your child will stay completely conscious throughout the procedure while also retaining all of his natural reflexes.

Minimal preparation is needed before your child's dental appointment and use of nitrous oxide. However, you should let your dentist know about any change that your child may have experienced regarding his medical condition or health, and if he is experiencing any respiratory condition that is making it difficult for him to breathe through his nose, you should also report this information. You should be sure to notify your dentist of any medications that your child might be taking on the day of his appointment in order to prevent adverse reactions.

Conscious Sedation

Conscious sedation is an option recommended for children with special needs, those that are very young, and kids that are apprehensive about their procedure. It can be used to calm your child down while reducing discomfort or anxiety associated with a dental treatment. There are a variety of medications that can be used, but the result is to make your child feel drowsy and potentially even fall asleep without losing consciousness.

After your child has gone through conscious sedation, he will probably feel pretty drowsy. You should be sure to monitor him closely, and if he feels like sleeping, be sure to place him onto his side with his chin up. You should also wake him each hour and encourage him to drink something in order to fend off dehydration.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia will put your child completely to sleep, and this sedation method would be the same if he was having ear tubes put into place or his tonsils removed. General anesthesia will only be performed in an outpatient setting or hospital, and while the risks of this option may be higher than other treatments, in many situations, the benefits will outweigh the risks.

On the day of your child's appointment, be sure to dress him in loose and comfortable clothing. He should not drink or eat anything after midnight the day before the procedure. You will also need to be prepared to stay at the surgical site or hospital waiting room for the entire duration of the procedure.

After an appointment in which general anesthesia was used, your child may be drowsy and should be monitored closely. If he vomits, help him to bend over and move his head to the side to make sure he is not inhaling anything. Your child's dentist will also give you a detailed list of post-operative instructions before you return home.

If you have questions about sedation options for your child before an upcoming procedure or appointment, please contact our office.
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