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Dental Anesthetics and Sedation for Kids

Methods of dental sedation for kids

Our goal is to keep every child comfortable and minimize any physical and mental distress associated with dental procedures. Our teams customize their dental sedation recommendations based on the child’s age and temperament as well as the amount of treatment required. We take a highly personalized approach and discuss all anesthesia options with parents prior to agreeing on a treatment plan.

For minor procedures and older children, we often recommend dental treatment with use of local anesthetics. Lidocaine gel can be applied to numb the treatment area which makes injections, if required, pain free. The effects of local anesthetics last several hours, so parents need to limit their child’s food intake to avoid accidental injury.

Nitrous oxide, aka “laughing gas”

One of the most accessible sedation options for children is the use of nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as “laughing gas.” Nitrous oxide provides a mild sedative effect on children and is not intended to put them to sleep, although some children become very relaxed, each child responds differently to medication and the sedative effect of nitrous oxide will vary from child to child. Nitrous oxide is known for its efficacy to reduce anxiety in kids.

Nitrous oxide is easily administered with a nose mask, it is very safe, and has a rapid recovery time after treatment. Nitrous oxide can be an excellent option for children with mild anxiety or who exhibit fears about their upcoming dental procedure. It is fast acting and provides a feeling of euphoria that helps the child to cooperate with the dentist and dental assistants during the dental procedure.

Oral conscious sedation

Oral conscious sedation is another option that may be recommended for children receiving dental treatment. The need for oral conscious sedation will be evaluated by your child’s dentist. Oral conscious sedation consists of giving child a liquid medication which the child drinks and becomes sedated. Sedation levels vary from child to child based on many factors including medication used.

Oral conscious sedation has associated risks and is not a predictable procedure (as each child responds differently), oral conscious sedation is not typically available in our practices, however, your dentist can help discuss this option with you in more detail should you prefer to explore this option for your child’s dental treatment.

General anesthesia in dentistry

Some children require extensive treatment and do not have the psychological maturity to have treatment safely rendered in the traditional dental setting. For these children, general anesthesia may be necessary to provide comprehensive dental treatment. Under general anesthesia, your child will be completely asleep for the dental procedure and all procedures are typically completed in one visit. General anesthesia has associated risks that your dentist and anesthesia provider will discuss with you. General anesthesia is available in select practices, and it is always administered by a licensed anesthesiologist.

We are committed to helping families establish lifelong dental health routines, and we know that the more difficult patients find dental treatments, the more likely they are to avoid care. That is why we work with parents to find the dental sedation options that work best for their children.