Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety in children. Administered through a small mask that fits over your child’s nose, it is an effective way to calm anxiety. Your child will be asked to breathe through his or her nose and not through their mouth. As the gas begins to work, your child will become calm, although he or she will still be awake and able to talk.
At the end of your child’s appointment, he or she will resume breathing regular oxygen, and all the effects of nitrous oxide will disappear. As your child gets older and becomes more comfortable during dental visits, nitrous oxide may not be necessary.
Oral Conscious Sedation
An extremely common technique for dental sedation is oral sedation. It is easy and does not require the use of needles. Your child will be given a prescription pill which, taken about an hour before the appointment, will have your child fully relaxed by the time you arrive at our office.
Oral conscious sedation is used for children with moderate dental anxiety and for patients who need longer or more complex procedures. With conscious sedation, your child will remain awake throughout the procedure, but will be in a deep state of relaxation.
Children receiving deep sedation go between consciousness and unconsciousness during their dental procedure. Patients often have no recollection of the treatment and are unable to respond to commands even if they are awake at times during the procedure.
About an hour before you arrive for treatment, you will give your child a prescription pill to help him or her relax. When you arrive at our practice, your doctor will gently place an IV and administer medication to help your child into a deeper state of relaxation. Once treatment is complete, your child will wake up with little or no memory of the appointment.
If your child cannot receive dental care in a traditional dental office, our practice offers gentle and effective dental care to infants, children, and adolescents in the nurturing environment of our local hospital. Through hospital dentistry, you can eliminate the struggles and trauma that can lead to a lifetime fear of dental treatment for your child.
Pediatric hospital dentistry services are ideal for:
- Physically, emotionally, or developmentally challenged children who are unable to hold still for dental treatment
- Children who have a severe gag reflex
- Children with complex medical conditions that make it unsafe to receive dental care in an office situation
- Children who have allergies to local anesthetics or experience difficulty achieving numbness
General anesthesia will put your child into a deep sleep. He or she will be unable to feel pain or move around. General anesthesia for dental procedures is provided by an anesthesiologist or dental anesthesiologist. These professionals are trained to deliver medication, monitor your child during the procedure, and handle any complications that may occur.
Caring for Your Child Before and After Sedation
If your child has an appointment requiring conscious sedation, IV sedation, or general anesthesia, please keep the following in mind:
Prior to the appointment
- Please notify us of any change in your child’s health and/or medical history.
- If your child has a fever, infection, or cold, please contact us, as it may be necessary to postpone the appointment.
- Your child should dress in loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.
- Ensure that your child uses the bathroom when you arrive at our office.
- Do not give you child solid food after midnight prior to your appointment. Clear liquids (water, apple juice, Gatorade) can be given up to six hours prior to the appointment.
- You or a legal guardian must remain at the office during the entire procedure.
After the appointment
- Monitor your child closely, as he or she will be very drowsy as the sedation wears off.
- Do not engage your child in strenuous activity. If your child wants to sleep, encourage them to lay on their side—not their back or stomach.
- Encourage your child to drink clear liquids every hour in order to prevent dehydration and nausea. We recommend light, easily digestible food for the first meal afterward.