Overcoming Dental Anxiety in Kids With Sedation Dentistry

Children are often scared or nervous about dental visits. It could be that the bright lights, the sharp tools, or the presence of a stranger gives them anxiety. Well, it’s normal and healthy to have these fears. But, parents worry that the dental anxiety would get in the way of the dentist performing his job. They wonder if they would have to hold down their children.


The good news is that that is not necessary. Dentists have a trick up their sleeve that takes away the child’s dental phobia, called sedation dentistry.


Sedation Dentistry


This is the use of medication to make the patient relax when performing a dental procedure. Some people call it “sleep dentistry,” but this could be deceiving because the patient remains awake the entire time. The only patients that are unconscious are those placed under general anesthesia.


When your child is sedated, he or she stays awake throughout the dental procedure but may not be fully aware of the surroundings. The child may still communicate with words or signs but would not need any help breathing. The sedation only helps the child to calm its nerves and become comfortable.


Types of Dental Sedation


Oral Sedation


Depending on the intensity of the pill provided, this type can range from mild to moderate. The dentist issues your child with a pill about an hour before the procedure. The medication causes the child to be drowsy but awake. If a higher level of sedation is needed, the dentist ups the dosage.


Inhaled Sedation


This form of sedation uses the typical sedation gas, laughing gas. The child inhales the gas through a mask placed over its nose. The dentist controls the amount inhaled to avoid too much sedation.


IV Sedation


For this option, the sedative drug is administered through the veins. This method sedates very quickly.


General Anesthesia


Also called deep sedation, this type knocks out the patient by causing him or her to be totally or near-totally unconscious. The patient sleeps throughout the procedure and wakes up when the anesthesia wears off. Deep sedation is not commonly used, although some cases may call for it.


Benefits of Dental Sedation


Dental sedation has the following advantages:

  • It acts quickly

  • Communication with the dentist helps him monitor the child’s vitals

  • It makes it easier for the child to cooperate for the length of the procedure. As such, the dentist can perform several procedures in one appointment

  • Causes some amnesia, which means that the child cannot remember the events of the procedure

  • Improves the child’s confidence in getting dental work done


Preparing for Sedation


To increase your child’s comfort during the dental procedure, prepare them early. Do not give your child any solid foods before the dental appointment. Dress the child in comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Inform the dentist of any prescriptions the child is on. Also, remember to carry the child’s favorite toy for comfort.


After the Procedure


Your child may experience some common sedation effects like nausea, uncontrollable laughing, and inability to coordinate physically. Adequate rest, some soft foods, and lots of water help the child pull out of the sedation. Also, carry an ice pack to help with any soreness or swelling.


Learn more about sedation dentistry to help kids overcome dental anxiety, contact Colwick Pediatric Dentistry in Cleburne, Texas at (817) 382-3029.

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