Fear of dentists or dental work can lead to children avoiding crucial dental procedures which may consequently result in poor oral conditions. Besides kids, many adolescents fear dentists, too, especially due to the sight and sound of the dental drill.
Because of the importance of dental cleaning and the occasional urgency of tooth extraction or a root canal treatment, an increasing number of dentists offer sedation to young people. As a parent, you need to understand the different sedation methods in order to make an educated decision on behalf of your child.
Sedation Techniques Suitable for Young People
- Local or General Anesthesia
- Nitrous Oxide
- Intravenous (IV) Sedation
Before newer sedation procedures were discovered, dentists sedated children with general anesthesia. Local or general anesthesia disables the consciousness so that the patient doesn’t detect the pain otherwise inherent in dental surgery. Patients who require a complex oral surgery or who resist other kinds of sedation may need anesthesia. However, not all dentists can implement anesthesia unless he or she has completed a special program for it. At times, a dentist will work with a nurse anesthetist or an anesthesiologist to administer the anesthetic and monitor the patient’s vital signs.
Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is often recommended for children because of its safety and effectiveness. During the dental procedure, the young patient will inhale the nitrous oxide gas that is delivered with oxygen. Laughing gas helps relax people and results in no pain during the procedure. However, the sedative effect wears off immediately after the gas is turned off. If there is pain after the procedure, children may ingest pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen.
Midazolam is a medication that can cause drowsiness, diminish anxiety, and induce forgetfulness of the dental procedure. The dentist will prepare and measure the right dose, after which, the child will orally take it before the procedure. During the dental work, the patient remains awake, but feels relaxed. Sometimes, midazolam is more effective when combined with other sedatives, like ketamine and nitrous oxide.
Pain can also be reduced by injecting a sedative into a vein in the young person’s arm or hand. During IV sedation, the patient is relaxed and awake. This procedure is suitable for patients who will undergo complex or long dental work, or for extremely agitated children. Dentists or their assistants should monitor the oxygen level during IV sedation to determine possible additional oxygen needs.
Anesthesia is not the only solution to dental phobia as other numerous sedation options are now available. Ask your dentist about these techniques and choose the one that will offer the most comfort to your child.