How can my anxious child get the dental care they need?

Unfortunately, not all children have positive memories of the dentist. Some children may be more sensitive or find it difficult to sit still during treatment. But there are solutions that can make receiving dental care more comfortable for them. Sedation options are an effective way to give your child the dental care they need without the discomfort or anxiety that may come with their cleanings or restorative care. There’s no reason that dental treatment should be painful. And all it takes for your child to get started with sedation dentistry is a simple conversation with their dentist.

sedation nitrous oxide and oxygen

Did you know…

Laughing gas is safe, effective, and has been used in dentistry since the late 19th century.

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What to expect at your child’s sedation consultation

Treatment Review

Your child’s pediatric dentist in Fairfield will review their treatment plan to determine if sedation is a good option for their procedure. Sometimes sedation may be recommended, or necessary, for more invasive or lengthy dental procedures. But there are options that are better for relieving tension and anxiety so your child can remain comfortable during treatment.

Health Evaluation

The dentist will then discuss with you your child’s health history and current overall health to determine if sedation is appropriate for them. Certain health issues may affect how your child responds to sedation, so it’s important to have a comprehensive view of their physical health before we agree upon sedation.

Recommendations & Options

With the information your child’s dentist has collected, they will lay out all available sedation options and discuss with you each one’s effects and instructions. With their recommendation and your input, we can help you choose the right option for your child and their procedure.

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Explore your child’s sedation options

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Laughing Gas or Minimally Inhaled Sedation

This method of sedation is ideal if your child is nervous at the dentist or if your child has trouble sitting still for their exams and cleanings. The dentist will pump a mixture of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and oxygen through a nose mask, and your child will breathe through this mask whenever directed to do so.

As they breathe in the gas, they’ll begin to feel less nervous, and may experience a “floaty” or “dreamy” feeling. Children don’t fall asleep with laughing gas, but they’ll be very calm throughout their procedure.

A few of the best benefits of this sedation method is that side effects are minimal, and the effects of the sedation wear off within a few minutes of the nose mask being removed. Your child can go back to school or to their daily activities after their appointment.

IV Sedation

IV sedation is delivered directly into the bloodstream via an IV. This means your child will be sedated more deeply and the sedation will take effect almost immediately after it’s introduced to the bloodstream. 

It’s very common to fall asleep during treatment with IV sedation. Although your child will likely forget much, if not all, of their procedure, they can still be woken up and respond to commands.  

Like oral conscious sedation, sleepiness or grogginess will occur for 4-6 hours or longer after their treatment. So you will need to plan the rest of your day accordingly.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is typically used only for the most invasive dental surgeries. This is because it requires the use of a ventilator to help patients breathe, and it will render your child completely unconscious — they will not feel anything or remember anything about the procedure. 

This can be a great option for patients with special needs or those who require more complex treatment. Dr. Lee has hospital privileges at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital and Bridgeport Hospital for general anesthesia cases.

Did you know…

Sedation options keep restless children calm while receiving dental treatment.

Does your child need an exam?

Call 203-763-4200 to book an appointment

Have questions about sedation options for your child? Find answers here.

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Why is sedation used in dentistry?

Sedation is most often used to treat dental anxiety and keep children at ease during their treatment. Fear of the dentist is very common, and sedation can keep your child calm during their appointments. 

Additionally, sedation helps with pain and discomfort during more invasive procedures, such as tooth extractions. It also helps young patients feel more comfortable if they need to sit still for longer treatment times. 

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Is sedation dentistry right for my child?

As long as your child is healthy and is not taking any medications that may interfere with the sedation, your child should be a good candidate for sedation dentistry. Contact us to learn more about sedation options for your child. We can discuss any concerns you may have during a consultation.

What does sedation dentistry feel like for my child?

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This depends on the method of sedation. With laughing gas, your child will feel light-headed, giggly, and relaxed, but will be fully conscious and aware of their surroundings. They will also feel less discomfort during treatment.

Oral conscious sedation and IV sedation will usually make patients feel groggy or sleepy. Your child will likely fall asleep, and probably won’t remember much about the procedure. However, they will not be unconscious, and can still be woken and respond to commands.

General anesthesia is the deepest level of sedation. Your child will be completely unconscious and will not feel anything or remember anything from the procedure.

Is sedation dentistry safe for toddlers?

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When done correctly, sedation dentistry for children, even toddlers, is completely safe. Several precautions are taken to ensure a seamless experience. First, we’ll take a detailed health history to make sure we recommend the right sedation option. We’ll then discuss options with the parent or guardian so that you understand the effects and are prepared to care for your child after their procedure. All methods of sedation dentistry are provided by professionals at our office so you can rest assured that your child’s well-being is of the utmost importance.

What Are the Different Types of Sedation Used?

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The most common forms of sedation used in pediatric dentistry are:

1) Inhaled Minimal Sedation - This type of sedation uses nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") to help your child feel more relaxed before and during the procedure. Unlike other sedation options, nitrous oxide keeps your child conscious and able to respond.

2) Oral Sedation - This type of sedation involves giving an anti-anxiety medication into an oral syringe or a tablet.

3) IV Moderate Sedation - This type of sedation uses an intravenous line to administer medication that helps relax your child while allowing them to breathe independently and remain conscious throughout the procedure.

Regardless of the form of sedation used, you can rest assured that Dr. Lee's team will always work with you and your child to ensure they feel safe and secure before, during, and after the dental procedure.

How Long Will the effects of the sedation last?

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The sedative's effects will last several hours after the procedure. Having someone available to stay with your child for at least 24 hours after the appointment is important.

What Should I expect Before, During, and After Sedation?

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Before Treatment:Your child should not have anything to eat or drink for at least six hours before the procedure. This is to minimize the risk of aspiration during sedation.

During Treatment:Your child will be sedated depending on their level of anxiety and the type of procedure being performed. They may fall asleep during the process and be unaware of what is happening. The dentist will monitor vital signs to ensure they remain safe and comfortable.

After Treatment:Once the procedure is over, your child will slowly wake up from the sedation and may feel drowsy. They will need to briefly rest in the dental office before being discharged home.

What are the Risks of Sedation Dentistry?

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A few risks are associated with pediatric sedation dentistry, but they are all relatively minor. The most common side effect is drowsiness, lasting several hours after the procedure. There is also a small risk of vomiting and overheating, but these are typically only mild and temporary. In very rare cases, there may be an allergic reaction to the medication used for sedation.

What aftercare Instructions should I follow after the sedation?

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After a child has been sedated for dental treatment, parents or guardians need to follow the aftercare instructions provided by the dentist. These instructions will help ensure the child's smooth and speedy recovery.

Some common aftercare instructions following pediatric sedation include:

• Allowing the child to rest for at least an hour after dental treatment. This will help them to come around from the sedation more gradually and avoid any sudden movements which could cause them to feel dizzy or nauseous.

• Offer sips of water or clear fluids regularly to keep your child hydrated. Avoid giving them anything too sugary, as it could make them feel worse.

• If your child is feeling sick or vomiting, contact your child's dentist immediately, as this could be a sign of a complication from the sedation.

• Watch out for any unusual behavior in your child over the next 24 hours. This includes sleepiness, irritability, or changes in appetite. Contact the dentist if you are concerned.

Did you know…

16% of school age children have a fear of the dentist.

Is your child ready for their dental appointment?

Call 203-763-4200 to Schedule Today