A Guide to Sedation in Dentistry for Children

A Guide to Sedation in Dentistry for Children

Parents can understandably get a little nervous at the prospect of pediatric procedural sedation for their child’s pediatric dental care and procedures. But calm parents can be a source of comfort for children who are already scared of the dentist. In this article, we’ll help you understand what to expect when your child needs to be sedated for a dental procedure.

When Is Sedation Necessary?

Several factors may make dental sedation necessary. Dental sedation may be used to achieve one of the following:

  • To mitigate pain or discomfort
  • To alleviate anxiety over the procedure
  • To care for children with special needs

Your kids dentist will also consider such factors as your child’s age when considering what type of dental sedation to use. There are several different levels of sedation that are available, depending on the type of procedure.

Types of Sedation for Children

When treating children, dentists typically rely on the following types of sedation:

  • General anesthesia (child fully asleep)
  • Deep sedation (child fully asleep)
  • Oral sedation (child awake but relaxed)
  • Nitrous oxide (child relaxed)

If your child is put to sleep with general anesthesia or deep sedation, a separate anesthesiologist will oversee the sedation process and monitor your child’s health.

Is Sedation Safe for My Child?

These dental sedation procedures have been used for years and offer a safe, effective way to keep children calm and pain-free while receiving dental care. Nitrous oxide is the safest form of sedation, but even more extensive forms of sedation have proven to be both safe and effective.

By relying on anesthesiologists for intenser sedation methods, a doctor will continually monitor your child’s vital signs to ensure they are safe throughout the procedure.

Side Effects of Sedation

While dental sedation has been proven safe and effective, it’s not uncommon to see some side effects. These include the following:

  • Fatigue or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating or shivering

Although these side effects can be unpleasant, they are typically mild and wear off relatively quickly.

Preparing for Treatment

Once your child is scheduled for dental sedation, you should ensure that you and your child prepare for treatment.

First, talk to your child about the procedure. Your son or daughter likely has fears and concerns that they need to process. Some parents may actually feel calmer once they’ve comforted their child!

Secondly, be sure to prepare for the procedure by following the recommended guidelines, including:

  • No solid food within six hours of the procedure
  • Only clear liquids two hours before the procedure

Ask your dentist about how soon to eat or drink after the procedure, as this can vary based on the dental work performed.

Putting Safety First at San Diego Children’s Dentistry

At San Diego Children’s Dentistry, nothing is more important than the health and safety of your children. Our team treats your children as if they were our own. We can administer mild sedation to relax your child while they watch a movie. If the procedure calls for a more intense form of sedation, we’re also experienced with that. We welcome your questions and concerns, and we aim to provide dental care that you—and your child—can be comfortable with.


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