In the oral health world, sedation dentistry is a relatively new concept gaining popularity with patients anxious or fearful of dental procedures. In this kind of dentistry, a patient can receive treatment without the risk of feeling pain or discomfort. Since it is one of our specialties, we decided to cover it to an extent to help you release any doubts.

Sedation dentistry is a safe technique that uses sedatives to help patients feel more relaxed and comfortable during dental procedures, and it is suitable for people who have a high level of anxiety or fear of the dentist, people with gag reflex, those with special needs, or those who have difficulty getting numb with local anesthesia. It is also suitable for people who need to have a longer procedure or multiple procedures done in one dental visit.

What Are the Levels of Sedation?

The main types of sedation used in dentistry are oral, inhaled, and intravenous.

  1. Oral sedation is the most commonly used type of sedation. It involves taking a pill before the procedure that helps the patient be put into a state of deep relaxation. Sometimes, the patient can fall asleep during the visit but can be easily woken up. If the patient uses this kind of sedation, they might need to be supervised after the procedure to check no side effects appear.
  2. Inhaled sedation involves using nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, to help the patient relax. This sedation is the safest option for patients (ranging from kids to adults). When you inhale the medication, you enter a state that allows you to lower your anxiety and pain threshold while remaining awake. This is considered the quickest option to feel the sedative’s effects and have it wear off completely soon after leaving your dentist’s office.
  3. Lastly, intravenous sedation involves using drugs administered directly into the bloodstream to produce a more profound sedation effect. It is administered by the dentist through an IV, which gives the professional the option of amp or lowering the medication according to necessity. This technique can either make the patient feel very droopy but aware of their environment or put them under general anesthesia, making them entirely unconscious. The last case is used to help patients with high levels of anxiety feel more comfortable, as well as in cases where the patient has to endure complex and extended dental procedures.

Why Is Sedation Dentistry Used for Kids?

One of the primary benefits of sedation dentistry for children is that it can help them relax and make them more comfortable during a dental procedure. Having the children feel less scared and more confident about dental treatments can help them to build a positive relationship with the dentist.

Here are other ways in which it might benefit you to choose sedation for your family:

  1. As previously mentioned, it benefits kids as it helps reduce their fear and anxiety during dental treatments. This is especially important for children who may have had a traumatic experience in the past or are being treated for a complex condition.
  2. It ensures that the child remains comfortable and relaxed throughout the procedure, allowing the dentist to work more efficiently and effectively, ultimately bringing a better quality of work.
  3. Instead of becoming a dreadful experience, sedation can shorten the dental visit and more manageable for the child, allowing them to get the dental care they need without feeling overwhelmed or scared.
  4. This practice can also reduce the risk of injury as the child is less likely to resist or move during the procedure.
  5. Sedation dentistry can help reduce pain during the procedure, making the experience more pleasant for the child and allowing them to get the dental care they need more comfortably.

What Should I Consider Before Sedation Dentistry?

Consent and knowledge are always important when discussing any treatment involving our physical bodies and health, more so if it’s referring to our children. Before choosing a medical method, you talk to your dentist about any questions you might have about the procedure, the type of sedation, the medication to be used, and their professional experience working with these meds and techniques.

Before the appointment -in case of being a new patient- is usually that the dentist executes a pre-sedation check-up, where they will inquire about the age, health background, level of fear (if there is any diagnosis of high anxiety/mental health), or special need of the patient. Here they will also contemplate the kind of procedure the patient will undergo in order to make a recommendation to the patient or their legal guardians.

While there is no final proof about the necessity of fasting before sedation, some professionals do work with the 2-4-6 fasting rule, which indicates that the amount of time to fast before the dental visit is 2 hours for clear fluids, 4 hours for breast milk, and 6 hours for solid foods.

Recommendations for parents whose children struggled with fear of the dentist

If you are the parent of a kid who suffers from anxiety at the simple idea of visiting the dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, we would suggest talking to your child’s dentist about ways to make the dental visit less stressful, such as providing a calming atmosphere in the office (i.e., our practices counts with playgrounds for our young patients, fish tanks and even tv screens to keep them entertain and calm), offering reassurances throughout the visit, and allowing the child to take breaks as needed. It may also be helpful to find a dentist experienced in pediatric dentistry.

And the more you make oral health an everyday thing in your home, going to recare appointments will become usual. For more tips on dealing with your child’s fear of the dentist, we invite you to check our previous article.