Most kids – and most adults, for that matter – get a little nervous about going to the dentist. This can be difficult not only for the child; it can also make it harder for the dentist to perform a procedure if the little one is nervous and moving around a lot in the dental chair. Fortunately, there are several forms of dental sedation available to help kids get through their dental visits without panicking. What follows is a list of the best dental sedation methods for children:
- Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) – This mild sedation is ideal for kids who have a low level of anxiety about their dental visit. It’s administered in the dentist office, and the effects work long enough to get the child through the dental appointment, but wear off quickly afterwards. Kids remain awake during the entire procedure, but feel much more relaxed and even a little giddy – which is how “laughing gas” earned its name!
- Oral sedation – Kids who are a little more nervous about visiting the dentist might benefit from oral sedation. This involves giving your child an oral medicine prior to the dental appointment. The exact medicine and the dosage will depend on your child’s age, anxiety level, and the length of the dental procedure. Generally speaking, oral sedation is stronger than laughing gas, although the child remains awake – and very relaxed – during the procedure. Your dentist will provide a full set of instructions for administering the sedation to your child, including what to expect during and after treatment, and details such as what your little one can eat or drink before the procedure. The effects of oral sedation might make your child a little drowsy after the appointment, so you should be prepared for that and should keep an eye on him or her as the sedation wears off.
- General anesthesia – Most kids can get through a dental appointment comfortably with either nitrous oxide or oral sedation. But if your child needs to undergo a lengthy procedure, your dentist may recommend general anesthesia. This form of sedation puts your child into a deep sleep that will last throughout the dental visit. They won’t be aware of the procedure, and won’t feel any pain or discomfort whatsoever. General anesthesia is administered only by a medical professional trained and experienced in anesthesiology, and it’s always done in a hospital setting. After the procedure is completed, you can take your child home on the same day.
To find out more about dental sedation methods best for children, talk to your dentist. He or she can give you additional information and recommend what would be best for your child.