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Is Sedation Dentistry Safe for Children?

August 20, 2021
young boy with sedation dentistry respirator

Is your child in need of a dental procedure that requires sedation? Or does your child experience severe anxiety when going to the dentist? Maybe you have a child with special needs that make it difficult for them to receive dental care. Whatever the reason, sedation dentistry is an option that can help children relax. 

But many parents wonder if sedation dentistry is safe for children. If you have concerns or questions about the safety of sedation dentistry for children in general as well as your child in particular, here’s what you should know. 

Sedation Dentistry Options in Order from Lowest to Highest Risk

There are a variety of sedation options that can help children relax during dental procedures, including: 

  • Nitrous Oxide. Nitrous oxide is an invisible gas that the patient can breathe in through the nose. It provides a relaxed, somewhat euphoric feeling that helps patients to feel calm. Nitrous oxide is the safest sedation option for most children as it wears off almost immediately once the child stops breathing it in. Depending on the type of procedure they received, the child may be able to return to normal activities immediately following their appointment. 
  • Oral Sedation. Children can take an oral sedative in pill or liquid form prior to their procedure. This will help the child feel relaxed throughout the procedure. They will be fully awake, but may feel sleepy or groggy. They may not remember the procedure afterwards. Oral sedation is safe for most children, but it may take longer to wear off than the effects of nitrous oxide. 
  • IV Conscious Sedation. A child can be sedated via an intravenous medication that will essentially put them to sleep. They will be able to respond to questions and requests during the procedure, but will most likely not remember anything about the procedure afterwards. This type of sedation has a very low risk, but is still carefully controlled and monitored by an anesthesiologist. 
  • General Anesthesia. General anesthesia is the type of sedation used for most surgeries. It is often administered in a hospital setting so that the patient can be well monitored throughout the procedure. Because general anesthesia renders the patient completely unconscious and their breathing will need to be assisted by a machine, this is considered the highest risk of the dental sedation options. That being said, general anesthesia is successfully administered very regularly in hospitals for routine surgeries without issue and it is safe for most children. 

How Will I Know if Sedation is Not Safe for My Child?

A complete medical history will need to be collected for any child who may undergo sedation dentistry. If there are any medical conditions a child has that would make sedation dentistry risky, it is best for the child’s primary care physician to weigh in on the decision. If the risk outweighs the necessity of the procedure, it may be best to postpone or forgo the procedure. 

Discuss the Options with your Dentist

If you have concerns, feel free to discuss them with your dentist. A dentist with experience using sedation dentistry with patients will be able to address your concerns and speak to the safety and risks of it. The safety of the child should always be the top priority over a minor or even major dental procedure. Together you, your child, and your dentist can decide on the best and safest sedation option to get the procedure done. 

Ask the Experts at Dental Implant Center of Rockville 

Sedation dentistry can make it easier for a child to receive the dental care they need. But if you have questions, ask Dr. Sreenivasan of the Dental Implant Center of Rockville to explain the benefits and the risks associated with sedation. We provide a variety of options so that you can choose what is best for your child. Our team has extensive experience administering anesthesia and monitoring patients while under the effects to ensure a safe and relaxing experience. 

Call (301) 294-8700 today to schedule a consultation or request an appointment. We look forward to helping your child have a relaxed dental experience. 

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