sedation dentistry

Sedation Dentistry for Children: When is it Needed?

date: 06.06.2024


Dr. Lara Saleh

Lara Saleh, DDS, MS, is a board-certified, award-winning pediatric dentist and the Founder & Owner of Dr Toothfairy. Dr. Saleh is fluent in English, Arabic, and French. She is also the mother of two wonderful young children and loves helping them, and all of her young patients achieve lifelong oral health.

As parents, we all want our children to have healthy and happy smiles. For most kids, regular dental checkups and cleanings are all that is needed to maintain good oral health. However, there are some situations where children may require sedation dentistry to receive necessary dental treatment. In this blog post, we will discuss when sedation dentistry may be needed for children and what types of sedation are available.

Dental Anxiety or Phobia

Children who experience dental anxiety or phobia may benefit from sedation dentistry to help them relax and cope with their fear during an appointment. Dental anxiety is common in young children and can be caused by previous negative experiences or fear of the unknown. In such cases, nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, can be used to make the child feel relaxed and calm during the dental procedure. This type of sedation is safe and temporary, and children recover quickly from its effects.

Extensive Treatment

Children who require extensive dental treatment, like multiple fillings, extractions, or crowns, may need sedation to make them comfortable during the procedure. General anesthesia, the most profound type of sedation, can be used in such situations. During a general anesthesia session, the child is completely asleep and unaware of what is happening. This type of sedation is used for significant dental procedures like root canal treatments, surgeries, or full-mouth restorations and must be administered by a trained anesthesiologist. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of general anesthesia with your child’s dentist before deciding if it is the best option for your child.

Special Needs Children

Children with physical or intellectual disabilities can find it hard to cooperate with the dentist during dental treatment. In such cases, sedation dentistry is used to make the child comfortable and relaxed. Depending on the severity of the case, a dentist may use nitrous oxide, oral sedation, or general anesthesia to make the dental procedure more manageable. The choice of the sedation technique depends on the child’s medical history, age, and type of dental problem.

Sensory Issues

Some children have sensory issues and can become overly stimulated by the lights and sounds in a dental office. In such cases, sedation dentistry can help make the dental appointment more comfortable. A dentist may use oral sedation or nitrous oxide to help the child calm down and feel more relaxed. This type of sedation is perfect for children with sensory issues or those who become anxious in unfamiliar environments.

Traumatic Dental Injuries

Children who have experienced traumatic dental injuries may require sedation to undergo corrective dental treatment. The dental injuries could be caused by falls, car accidents, or sports-related injuries. In such cases, general anesthesia may be necessary to perform complex dental procedures like orthodontic treatment or root canal therapy. The sedation type and duration depend on the child’s medical history and the severity of the trauma.

Ask Dr Toothfairy About Sedation Dentistry for Children

In conclusion, sedation dentistry can be a reasonable option for children who need dental treatment. The type of sedation used depends on the severity of the child’s dental problem, their medical history, and level of anxiety. If you think your child may benefit from sedation, consult with your pediatric dentist to discuss the most suitable sedation technique for your child’s needs. Remember, while sedation dentistry is safe, following the dentist’s pre- and post-treatment instructions is essential to ensure a safe and successful dental procedure.

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