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Guide to Sedation and Anesthesia in Pediatric Dental Care

A girl smiles while lying on a dental chair before a dental procedure.

Does your child have dental anxiety? General anesthesia or sedation may be necessary if they need to undergo a long dental procedure that requires complete stillness for a prolonged period. At The Children's Dental Center, we are proud to provide safe in-house sedation.


Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about sedation and anesthesia so you can support your child through the process. 

What Are Different Types of Sedation and Anesthesia?

There are multiple types of sedation and anesthesia with varying degrees of effect on your child’s level of awareness during the dental procedure.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous oxide, often called "giggle gas" or "laughing gas," is a mild sedative commonly used in pediatric dentistry. It is usually administered alongside a mixture of oxygen. This form of sedation induces a state of relaxation, making your child feel more at ease during the procedure. 


Nitrous oxide sedation is considered the least invasive option and allows children to remain conscious and responsive throughout the procedure.

Deep Sedation

Deep sedation may be necessary for more invasive dental procedures. This involves the administration of intravenous (IV) medications to induce a state of deep sleep. This makes your child unconscious and unaware of the procedure. 

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia involves the use of medications to induce a controlled state of unconsciousness. General anesthesia is typically completed at a hospital or surgery center due to the need for specialized equipment to ensure patient safety. 

Overview of a Dental Procedure with IV Sedation

Pre-Procedure Preparation: Upon arrival, a nurse will greet you and your child, gathering essential information such as the time of your child's last meal and reviewing their medical history. They will then provide detailed explanations of the procedure and address any questions or concerns you may have. Once you feel fully informed and comfortable, you will be asked to sign the sedation anesthesia consent form, acknowledging your understanding and agreement to proceed.


Administration of Sedation: To help your child relax and feel comfortable, distractions such as toys or video games may be provided. Depending on the situation, your child may receive flavored sleepy air or a twilight medication injection to induce drowsiness. It's recommended not to inform your child about the IV placement to minimize anxiety and promote a positive experience.


Continuous Monitoring: While you will not be able to be present in the room during this time for safety reasons, rest assured that a skilled medical team, including doctors and nurses, will be present to monitor your child's vital signs, including EKG, blood pressure, breathing, and oxygenation levels.


Post-Procedure Recovery: Your child may feel sleepy and dizzy for a few hours post-procedure. A recovery nurse will monitor your child's progress and provide you with detailed discharge instructions and home care guidelines. Typically, it takes about 30 to 60 minutes before your child is ready to travel home. 


At The Children's Dental Center, our goal is to provide safe and pain-free treatment for your child. Contact us today!

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