It’s essential to encourage good oral hygiene habits in your kids from early on. After all, 19% of children aged 2 to 19 have untreated dental caries — and if those cavities go unaddressed, all sorts of serious problems can occur.
Of course, scheduling regular visits with a children’s dentist is one of the best ways to ensure long-term oral health. However, those visits may not always be a breeze. Although pediatric dentistry professionals will make every effort to ensure patients are completely comfortable, additional methods might be recommended to ensure a pleasant dental experience.
Some children will benefit immensely from adding sedation dentistry to their regular visits. In addition, some patients who undergo children’s dental procedures may require a form of sedation to optimize comfort while preventing potential stress and physical harm. Let’s take a closer look at how and why your pediatric dental care provider might use sedation dentistry for patients.
Your dentist may recommend sedation during children’s dental procedures, but what exactly does this mean? Dental sedation involves the use of medications to help patients feel relaxed during their visits. In many cases, patients remain awake and conscious; however, unconscious sedation may be required in certain situations. Essentially, dental sedation is a way for patients to receive the treatment they need without fear or anxiety.
There are a few options used by adult and pediatric dentistry professionals to sedate patients.
Nitrous oxide (sometimes known as laughing gas) may be used during visits as a conscious sedative. This may be administered through a breathing mask or through an IV. Although the patient will experience a calming effect, they can still talk to their dentist. There are minimal side effects associated with nitrous oxide and its sedative effects wear off quickly after the procedure.
Another option is to use oral sedatives. Patients will take sedative medications via the mouth and will experience more pronounced relaxation. While the patient remains conscious, they may often fall asleep during the procedure. Keep in mind that not every dentist will offer this option.
In some cases, general anesthesia will be recommended so that a dentist can safely perform a given treatment or procedure. This is an example of unconscious sedation. While it’s certainly not required or advisable in every case, as it comes with certain risks, it may be the right choice when performing more serious procedures or when there are concerns for the patient’s safety during treatment. This type of sedation may be administered at a dentist’s office or in another medical facility by a trained professional.
Generally speaking, dental sedation is considered to be a very safe procedure — even for young patients. This type of dental treatment can actually increase the safety of both the patient and the staff, in some cases.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry maintains that children will best tolerate sedation dentistry if their parents properly prepare them for these procedures and follow official recommendations. For example, it’s up to parents to restrict food and drink intake prior to children’s dental procedures involving sedation. Parents must also provide a complete medical history and inform their pediatric dentist if their child is taking any medications or supplements. Provided that all recommendations are followed and that your child’s dentist is certified to perform sedation dentistry, you can feel secure in the knowledge that this type of treatment will not pose a health risk to your child.
For children who experience severe anxiety, dental sedation can be highly beneficial. The same can be said for children with physical or developmental disabilities or lower pain tolerances. Patients who are too young to understand or cope with certain children’s dental procedures may also be excellent candidates for sedation. If dental visits have been tumultuous in the past, it may be worthwhile to consider sedation dentistry moving forward.
Have questions about sedation dentistry for your child? Please contact us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.