Children are often apprehensive and afraid when it comes to dental visits. These feelings are common and often go hand-in-hand. If your child’s first appointment is traumatic, future appointments may just be as awful and you could risk creating a lifelong fear. Even if keeping oral health in good condition is important, especially at a young age.
In certain situations, however, your dentist might recommend using sedation during your child’s treatment as there is no way to be sure that your child will have fun in the dental chair. While this can be a worrying thought, the right information can certainly help to ease your mind.
So, here’s what you need to know about the types of sedation and when is sedation required.
Types of Sedation
Commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is also the lowest form of sedation.
It is non-invasive and once your child stops breathing nitrous oxide, the drug will quickly leave their system and they will return to normal.
Nitrous oxide is usually administered through a small breathing mask; it won’t put your child to sleep but it will help them to relax.
Mild sedation is induced using orally-administered drugs but does not put your child to sleep.
It helps them to relax during visits while staying awake but their movement and coordination may be affected.
Respiratory and cardiovascular reflexes and functions are not affected so there is no need for any additional monitoring equipment or oxygen.
This can make your child drowsy and even if they can respond verbally, they may not be able to speak coherently.
They are likely to remain a little sleepy after the procedure, and most children cannot remember much about the procedure.
Don’t worry, this type of sedation can easily be reversed and breathing and cardiovascular functions remain unaffected.
This is usually induced using intravenous drugs and will mean that your child is fully asleep.
They may move a little and make sounds in response to pain or repeated stimulation but they will be in a deep sleep.
Recovery may take a little longer and it is highly unlikely that they will remember anything that happened.
Fret not as this sedation is often monitored by an extra qualified person throughout the procedure.
This is the deepest option also via intravenous drugs. This sedation will put your child completely to sleep and unable to respond to any pain.
They will not remember the procedure and would remain drowsy for some time afterwards. The procedure will be monitored by an anaesthetist.
Recovery time is a little longer compared to the other sedation types and your child may need assistance with breathing during the procedure.
When is sedation is required?
More often than not, the procedure could be painful and sedation is necessary to avoid discomfort. Also, if your child is anxious about visiting the dentist, it is good to ensure their experience is a smooth and positive one.
The level of sedation required depends on the level of anxiety and the procedure. For mild anxiety, nitrous oxide or mild sedation would help your child relax. If your child is very young, a higher level might be appropriate to prevent them from moving about during the procedure. In extreme cases, higher sedation levels may be required.
Sedation is also sometimes required for children with behavioural disorders or other special needs. It can be difficult to explain why dental care is important and the whole experience can be very frightening for them. Hence, an appropriate level of sedation may be used to help them stay calm and still for the procedure.
Sedation of children for dental procedures is a common and safe practice. However, if it still keeps you on edge, consult your dental professional on the what would be the necessary steps to take when your child is due for a visit.