Sedation Dentistry for Children and Adolescents

It is normal for your child to feel anxious or nervous before a dental procedure, but here at Dr. Kwon Pediatric Dentistry, we do everything we can to make your child safe and comfortable. Our dentists are experts in sedation dentistry. 

Sedation helps facilitate dental treatment and safely manages any pain or anxiety that may accompany the procedure. It can also reduce the hyperactive gag reflex associated with a dental procedure. Sedation is tolerated well by most children, and gives them a euphoric, drowsy, and warming feeling to increase tolerance for longer appointments.

Types of Sedation

There are a few different types of sedation used in pediatric dentistry, and your child’s dentist will use the appropriate type based on the procedure being done. They are all designed to keep your child safe and comfortable during their treatment.

  • General anesthesia: General anesthesia is conducted under the care of a trained anesthesiologist, separate from your child’s dentist. Under general anesthesia, your child will be completely asleep and feel no pain. Intubation and a breathing tube will be used in addition to an IV.
  • Deep sedation with IV: Just like with general anesthesia, deep sedation with an IV is conducted and monitored by a trained anesthesiologist, separate from your child’s dentist. With deep sedation, your child will be asleep but have the ability to move while sedated. Intubation and a breathing tube are typically used with this procedure.
  • Mild to moderate sedation: Mild to moderate sedation, also known as oral conscious sedation, is administered orally by your child’s dentist, typically in the form of a pill. It helps the patient relax and feel sleepy but will not put them to sleep. Your child will remain responsive during their procedure and will not need intubation or a breathing tube for this type of sedation.
  • Nitrous oxide: Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” is a gas mixed with oxygen for your child to breathe in and provides a mild sedative effect. This will give your child a euphoric, giggly, tingling feeling that relaxes them during their procedure. They may feel slightly lightheaded or like they’re floating. Nitrous oxide is the least invasive form of dental sedation and can be easily adjusted based on your child’s tolerance.

Our dentists at Dr. Kwon Pediatric Dentistry are happy to help if you have any questions about the different types of sedation used in our office.

Use of Sedation in Children’s Dentistry

Dental professionals consider nitrous oxide the safest sedative in dentistry. Both children and adults tolerate it well. It has a rapid onset, is reversible, can be adjusted in various concentrations, and is non-allergenic.

Your child will inhale nitrous oxide through a tiny mask placed over the nose. He or she should not experience any adverse effects, but we advise parents to keep their children from eating for 2 hours prior to the procedure so they don’t get sick while drowsy. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, less than 0.5% of young patients have nausea or vomiting.

Sedation in a dental office is never used as a general anesthetic and is not intended to put the patient “to sleep.” Depending on the procedure, local anesthetic may still be necessary. Side effects are uncommon but may include nausea, vomiting, headache, and/or slight sleepiness or disorientation.

For sedation to be effective, the patient should be feeling well and able to breathe easily through the nose. The patient should also refrain from eating a large meal prior to breathing nitrous oxide. If the patient has a cold, fever, ear infection, or stuffy nose, please contact us in case we may need to reschedule the appointment.

Recovery from sedation is fast because it is quickly eliminated from the body. The patient will breathe oxygen for 5 minutes following the procedure.

If you have any concerns or questions with the use of nitrous oxide, please feel free to ask our pediatric dentists or trained staff.

The Benefits of Using Nitrous Oxide in Pediatric Dentistry

Nitrous oxide provides a safe and effective way to manage pain and anxiety during your child’s procedure. At Dr. Kwon Pediatric Dentistry, your child’s peace of mind in our office is one of our top priorities, and we want coming to the dentist to be a positive experience. Nitrous oxide provides a relaxing state for longer procedures so we can help your child achieve healthy smiles for life.

Is Nitrous Oxide Safe for Children?

Nitrous oxide is safe for children during their dental procedure. We follow the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry guidelines for our procedures, which require 2 medical professionals present during the treatment or dental procedure. Following the procedure, your child’s dentist will give them pure oxygen to eliminate nitrous oxide in their system so they can feel less drowsy the rest of the day. Avoid giving your child solid foods before the procedure and dress them in a comfortable outfit to ensure the procedure goes smoothly.

Post-Sedation Procedure Instructions

After the procedure, be sure to monitor your child and give them soft foods such as mashed potatoes, lukewarm soup, or smoothies to soothe any discomfort. Encourage your child to drink lots of water to stay hydrated and give them an ice pack if necessary to ease any swelling. Help your child feel comfortable and relaxed, and they will feel brand-new in no time!

How Can We Help?