Can Kids Benefit from Sedation Dentistry?
[updated August 2019]
When you start taking your child to the dentist, it’s only natural to be concerned about how he or
she will react to the experience. While most children are able to remain calm when going to the dentist, sedation dentistry can help to make each visit more pleasant for those with fear or anxiety. Sedation dentistry allows children who may be unable, unwilling or afraid to have necessary dental treatment undergo the procedure without feeling fear, stress, anxiety or pain.
Reasons Your Child Might Benefit from Sedation Dentistry
Here is a look at some of the reasons why your child might benefit from going to a dentist who offers sedation dentistry:
Fear of the Dentist’s Chair
It’s not unusual for kids to be nervous about the idea of sitting in the dentist’s chair, and they may also be wary of the equipment used during cleanings and treatments. If your child is feeling anxious about the drill, sedation dentistry can make it possible for he or she to have a more positive experience at the dentist’s office.
Restlessness During the Visit
Is your child prone to getting fussy or agitated at the dentist’s office? Kids often get impatient during their visit to the dentist, particularly if they are scheduled to undergo a lengthy procedure such as getting a filling. Sedation dentistry can make the visit seem to fly by, which will help kids and their parents alike have a better time at the dentist.
Memories of Bad Experiences
If your child has had a negative experience at a dentist’s office in the past, visiting a new dentist
may help, but it could still be difficult to let go of those memories. Sedation dentistry offers a
the solution that can help your child to feel calm and relaxed throughout his or her stay at the
Overly Sensitive Teeth
Many children don’t like the dentist for a perfectly understandable reason—they have highly
sensitive teeth, a strong gag reflex, or something else that makes it uncomfortable for them to
undergo even a basic cleaning. One of the great benefits of sedation dentistry is that it makes it
possible for all children to get the oral care they need to protect their teeth and gums without
suffering discomfort or dismay.
Other benefits of sedation dentistry for children include
- enhanced treatment quality (especially for children who have difficult sitting still)
- ability to perform more treatments in less time
- children have little to no memory of the treatment
Types of Sedation Dentistry
There are three different types of sedation dentistry: nitrous oxide, oral sedatives, and IV sedation.
- Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is a very safe, mild sedative that will help your child remain relaxed during dental procedures.
- Oral sedatives make your child a little drowsy and will keep him/her relaxed during their treatment. This usually takes about 20 minutes to kick in so your child will be asked to take this when you arrive for the appointment.
- IV sedation requires a needle to be inserted into your child’s vein and can be adjusted during the treatment to keep your child relaxed for a longer procedure.
It is important to thoroughly vet any dentist who is offering sedation dentistry for your child. In recent years there have been a few reports of sedated children dying at dental offices so make sure your child’s dentist follows safe sedation protocols. Ask your dentist about their specific sedation dentistry training.
About the Author – Dr. Thuy Nguyen, DDS
Dr. Thuy Nguyen DDS in Tukwila, WA holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and received a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. In 2011, she also completed the Progressive Orthodontic Program. She is known for her fine work and a friendly and caring attitude. Her enthusiasm for dentistry is contagious, as she designs and improves smile after smile. Dr. Nguyen is bilingual in English and Vietnamese. She maintains memberships to the Seattle King County Dental Association, The Washington State Dental Association, and The American Dental Association.
Saint Louis, Catherine. Should Kids Be Sedated for Dental Work? The New York Times, August 24, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/24/well/family/should-kids-be-sedated-for-dental-work.html
Sedation and Pediatric Dentistry. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. http://www.chp.edu/our-services/dental-services/patient-procedures/sedation
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