Is Dental Sedation Safe For Kids?
One of the biggest concerns that parents have when they bring their children into the dentist has to do with sedation. It is an understandable concern, it can be a scary experience for a parent to watch a young child under the influence of sedatives to undergo dental treatments.
But parents need not worry. Dentists do their best to minimize the amount of sedatives needed and to make the situation as comfortable as possible, making it simple and safe for children.
If your child is facing a dental procedure that requires a sedative, here is some basic information and a few tips to help make the process smooth and put your mind at ease.
There are three main kinds of sedation your dentist will choose from:
- Conscious sedation. After administering, the child will feel relaxed and perhaps a little sleepy. This sedative will be in the form of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), or in a liquid or pill form.
- Deep sedation. This will put a child to sleep, which will be achieved by administering anesthetic vapour followed by an IV.
- General anaesthesia. The child will enter a deep state of sleep with no movement. This occurs through inhalation of anesthetic vapour through a breathing tub, followed by IV medication.
While the dentist and their team is in charge of the proceedings, it’s important for parents to help out by doing the following:
Explain to the child beforehand what is going to happen and what to expect. Use age appropriate language and a gentle approach, assuring them that there is nothing to worry about.
It is up to the parents to follow the food and drink restrictions that the dentist will have given them. This is especially important for the child’s well-being safety. Even if the child is resisting or complaining, it’s very important to stick to the restrictions.
On the day of the procedure, help the child remain calm. It often helps to bring along things like a favourite blanket, toy or stuffed animal that will put them at ease. Dress them in loose, soft, comfortable clothes.
If possible, come alone with the child so that they have your full attention. Keep them focused on you by singing or have a conversation with them about something they like. The more relaxed they are the better.
Following the procedure, it’s important for the parent to be with the child as they wake up. They may feel nauseous, sore and disoriented and will need the comfort of their parents there.
If it is possible to have two adults present for the drive home, the better. That way, one can keep an eye on the child and one can drive. While the risks are low, it is important to monitor vital signs and see if the child needs anything. Again, they might feel out of sorts for the first few hours to a day after the procedure, and will likely be sore.
Reward them with something special following, whatever that means for you and your family. It can be a difficult experience for everyone involved so a little treat is fitting in this situation.
Finally, follow all the advice your dentist gives you and be completely transparent if you have deviated from the plan. And don’t be afraid to ask questions or voice concerns, your dentist is here to help.