Sedation and General Anesthesia for Kids
At Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry, we are trained in a wide array of techniques that are designed to help your child feel more comfortable in the dental chair. We speak with your child in a calm, upbeat voice, and avoid using words that can scare your child. We show them our tools and demonstrate what we are going to do before we do it so your child is prepared. However, even with all of these techniques, some kids still experience anxiety, and have trouble remaining calm. For these kids, some form of sedation may be an appropriate option.
We do our best to provide your child with a friendly, comforting atmosphere, helping them to feel calm in our office. However, there are some children who are more anxious than others. Sedation may help these kids to relax during dental procedures like tooth extractions. Kids who are anxious may not be able to sit still. When we have to perform precision work, excessive movement inhibits our ability to do quality work and puts your child in danger. With sedation, your child can remain still, greatly reducing the risk of injury. Sedation may also be used for children with special needs, helping to prevent spontaneous movements or other behavior that may interfere with dental treatment.
Nitrous oxide is a type of minimal sedation. You most likely know this form of sedation by its other name: “laughing gas.” It is mixed with oxygen delivered through a mask, which is placed over your child’s nose. As your child breathes the gas in, it goes to work quickly providing a feeling of euphoria. When their procedure is over, we will turn off the nitrous, providing them with just oxygen. This will help to ensure that the nitrous is completely removed from your child’s system before they leave. It only takes a few moments for the effects to wear off, and your child is back to their normal self.
For children who are quite anxious, not able to cooperate, or unable to sit still for long periods of time, we may recommend oral sedation. Oral sedation is a type of sedation that is delivered to your child through an oral medication. Once the medication goes to work, it will make your child less aware, but they will most likely not fall asleep. The effects will take several hours to wear off so you may need to stay for a while after their appointment is over.
What About General Anesthesia?
Sometimes general anesthesia is necessary in order to provide treatment for a child. If a child is exceptionally nervous or uncooperative (making safety a serious concern), and needs a significant amount of dental work, we may recommend general anesthesia. With general anesthesia, your child is completely unconscious. Procedures done under general anesthesia are performed in a hospital setting. Your child will need more preparation prior to their appointment (such as no foods or liquids for several hours before), and will need several hours of recovery afterward. We will recommend general anesthesia if we feel it is appropriate for your child.
If your child is anxious to have dental work done, call Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry today to find out if sedation or general anesthesia is right for them!