Sedation in Pediatric Dentistry

Although most think the dentist’s chair is not the most fun place – particularly when lengthy procedures and surgery are on the docket. With children, the stakes are that much higher. There are nerves to combat, and sometimes a little extra help is needed.

Sedation dentistry offers the perfect solution for pediatric dentistry.

Endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAD) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), sedation is a technique used within our pediatric practice in Goodyear, Surprise and Buckeye to quiet nerves before and during pediatric dental work. Available in many forms, its effects are temporary, lasting up to a few hours, and while children find calm, they are not put to sleep. It’s popular for babies and toddlers who need to remain still while our experienced team works.  Sedatives do not alleviate pain, but they are typically used in conjunction with pain management to quiet nerves.

Children who best qualify for sedation include:

  • Patients requiring particularly long or extended procedures that require the child to remain still
  • Those suffering from a phobia of the dentist and/or dental procedures
  • Kids with an exceptionally strong gag reflex
  • Patients with special needs or requiring unique accommodations

Sedatives are dispensed in a number of ways: through the nose like nitrous oxide, orally with sedatives, or intravenous through the vein. Each has its own benefits and general anesthesia is provided by our licensed anesthesiologists.

N2O (nitrous oxide)

Colloquially known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide (N2O) is an incredibly popular solution to pediatric sedation dentistry, because it produces mild but effective results in a safe and simple format. A mask dispels a combination of oxygen and N2O to deliver feelings of calm and relaxation. The patient remains awake even though the mask is used throughout the entirety of the procedure. It is gentle enough for use on toddlers and children of all ages and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to put children at ease for their dental visit. When the mask is removed, the flow of N2O is replaced entirely by oxygen, with its effects diminishing within just five minutes.

Conscious Sedation in the office

While conscious sedation includes nitrous oxide, it is also used in oral sedatives to alleviate anxiety and panic. It is also a gentle, effective way to treat children with special needs. There are several type on oral conscious sedation that are designed for short sedation, usually around 30-60 minutes, and also longer treatments, ranging around 2 hours.  While most children maintain consciousness, children sometimes fall asleep from the strong feelings of comfort and calm. Sedatives are available in a number of different medications, which are custom-picked for your children according to their history, health, and needs.

IV general anesthesia sedation in office

Unlike an oral sedative or Nitrous oxide, an anesthesiologist administer sedative before and throughout a treatment. The Anesthesiologist has greater control in how the medication is dispensed with the child being monitored at all times. This is especially crucial with small children, because their still-developing systems are particularly sensitive and greater monitoring. Our licensed anesthesiologists monitors vitals until the child awakens, and patients are typically discharged shortly following the procedure.

Hospital anesthesia (for children with compromised healthcare needs)

In more severe cases, complex or even multiple surgeries may be required. At Palm Valley Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, our dentists have privileges with Children Phoenix Hospital to treat children. With children with special needs or certain health conditions, additional equipment or expertise may be needed, making a hospital necessary simply for its resources. Hospital anesthesia is fairly common, combining nitrous oxide with other sedatives to relax children before the IV is inserted for intravenous sedation. Your child will be monitored by hospital licensed anesthesiologist, who is specifically trained and experienced to work with babies and toddlers, as well as older children.  Kids can find the hospital even scarier than the dentist’s chair, so parents must be present to escort their children to the procedure. Just their presence alone can go a long way in comforting children before the sedatives take over. Our patient support team will provide instructions for at-home care both before and following your appointment. Typical directives include food and beverage guidelines, as well as detailed instructions for medical care.

Our practices in Goodyear, Surprise, and Buckeye are designed specifically to provide a welcoming, warm, and relaxed environment where children feel safe and comfortable. Schedule an appointment today discuss your child’s custom treatment plan!