Four Sedation Dentistry Options Available for Your Child

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As a parent, you want the best for your child. When it comes to dentistry, you want your child to receive the treatment they need while experiencing the least amount of fear or discomfort. Young children may require treatments like fillings, crowns, and other procedures that require them to be still and cooperative over extended periods. Depending on the age and temperament of your child, sedation dentistry may be the answer to helping your child receive the care they need. There are several options available. It is important to understand the differences so that you can make the best decisions regarding your child's dental care.

Types of Sedation

  • Nitrous Oxide Sedation: Commonly known as "laughing gas," this form of inhalation sedation can help your child achieve a state of relaxation. With this type of light sedation, your child will remain conscious and be able to respond to requests made by the dentist. It does not provide pain relief so a local anesthetic will be injected. Nitrous oxide provides the least amount of sedation and may not be appropriate for small children or those who are particularly anxious about receiving dental care.
  • Oral Sedation: Oral sedative medications can be administered the night before a procedure, or approximately one hour prior to an appointment, in pill or liquid forms. Liquid sedatives can be mixed with pain killers to dull pain during and post the procedure. Local pain relief is administered separately.  Oral sedatives can provide a deep state of relaxation. Your child will be conscious yet may be so deeply relaxed that they are not aware of the procedures taking place. They can respond to requests as needed but will be so relaxed that many patients sleep through the procedure. This method works well for children of various ages.
  • Intravenous Sedation: Like oral sedatives, medications administered through an IV can provide deep relaxation while allowing the patient to remain conscious. Local pain relief will be administered separately. It will require staff with special training in IV sedation and may be difficult for children who have a fear of needles. This method is typically reserved for dental surgery.
  • General Anesthesia: This method of sedation renders the patient completely unconscious. A local anesthetic will not be necessary. It is administered by a dental anesthesiologist who will oversee the patient during the procedure to assist with ventilation and breathing. There are additional risks associated with general anesthesia. Some studies have linked the onset of ADHD to multiple exposures to general anesthetics. Finally, in rare cases complications or allergic reactions have resulted in death. This method is used almost exclusively for dental surgery.


Sedation costs are not included in the price of the dental procedure and will be billed separately. In addition, insurance companies generally do not cover sedation services so you will need to plan to pay out of pocket.

Nitrous oxide and oral sedation are the least expensive and can cost between $200–$300 dollars. Intravenous sedation and general anesthesia are performed by a dental anesthesiologists who typically bill at an hourly rate. In addition, there may be additional fees for the use of a surgery center. Therefore, the cost of intravenous sedation and general anesthesia can vary greatly and can be considerably more expensive than other forms of sedation.

As your discuss your sedation options with a dentist like Medin Family Dental, you will be able to determine which method will be most appropriate for your child and circumstances.