Faqs About Pediatric Sedation Dentistry

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Is your child nervous about their next dental visit? Are you concerned about them sitting still during a complex restoration? Pediatric sedation dentistry can help. If this is your first experience with dental sedation, take a look at the top questions parents have about this common option.

What Is Dental Sedation?

Dental sedation is exactly what the name sounds like—it's sedation (anesthesia) used to perform pediatric dental procedures. The type of sedation the dentist chooses depends on your child, the need for anesthesia, and the complexity of the procedure or restoration. 

Common types of dental sedation include nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas), mild sedation, moderate sedation, and deep sedation. Mild sedation allows your child to rest and relax. But they are still awake during the procedure. 

If your child wants to sleep for the entire procedure, moderate or deep sedation are options. An anesthesiologist will need to administer deep or general sedation and monitor your child during the procedure, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. A pediatric sedation dentist will also monitor the anesthesia and will perform the dental procedure. 

Do All Children Need Dental Sedation?

Simply stated, no. All children will not need sedation This is a choice that parents and dentists can make together. The factors to consider include your child's age, developmental needs, overall health, the type of procedure they need, the length of time they will need to sit in the dental procedure chair, their ability to follow directions, and their comfort or anxiety level. 

Are There Special Pre-Sedation Instructions To Follow?

Yes, your child will need to follow a set of pre-procedure instructions. The dentist will provide you with directions that detail when your child can/can't eat and drink before the sedation. Most pediatric patients will need an empty stomach before the procedure. This reduces the risks of sedation-related nausea and vomiting. 

How Long Will the Sedation Last? 

The amount of time the sedation lasts and the impact it has on your child depends on their health/body and the type of anesthesia the dentist uses. Deeper sedation causes a deeper level of sleep or rest. It may take longer for this type of medication to wear off. This means your child may seem groggy immediately after the procedure and for the next few hours. The dentist will provide you with post-op instructions and more information on what to expect from your child's recovery.