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Sedation Options for Children – Information For Parents

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Make dental visits easy for kids using sedation

Make dental visits easy for kids using sedation

It’s never easy to see your child in scared or in pain. It doesn’t matter how young or old they are, when they hurt, you hurt. Unfortunately, sometimes children are afraid of the dentist. This can make a simple checkup scary and any further treatments a source of terror. Luckily, there are options that your dentist can offer in the form of sedation dentistry. This can range from a mild dreamy state to being completely asleep. Your dentist will suggest something to provide the safest, most pain-free treatment for your child.

How Safe is Anesthesia or Sedation in Dental Procedures for Children?

In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) released a clinical report with updated guidelines for dentists and oral surgeons to follow when administering sedation or anesthesia to children. These guidelines are to ensure the safety of your child while under sedation.

The following information provides an overview of the various types of sedation and anesthesia. It’s important for parents to know their options. Before the appointment, be sure to discuss with your dentist about the type of sedation or anesthesia being recommended for your child’s dental work


Sedation Options for Children — Know What’s Available:

Nitrous oxide:

  • This is a mild sedative and is the least invasive. It’s commonly known as ‘giggle gas’ or ‘laughing gas.’ Children breathe this with a little oxygen. They don’t usually go to sleep, but most will get more relaxed. Most kids enjoy feeling a little silly and lightheaded, but a few don’t like it. This wears off fairly quickly.

Mild sedation:

  • This medication(s)  is commonly used on older children and adults. Your child will be calm and awake. They should be able to do what the dentist or surgeon asks them to do. After the procedure, your child may not remember parts about the dental visit. Dentists and oral surgeons can safely give these medications while they do the dental work, because your child remains awake.

Moderate sedation:

  • Under moderate sedation, children are sleepy. They are still usually able to do what the dentist or oral surgeon asks them to do. They breathe on their own and will usually wake up easily. Most children will not remember anything about the procedure. Dentists and oral surgeons can safely give these medications while they do the dental work.

Deep sedation:

  • This involves intravenous (IV) medications to help your child sleep through the procedure. Your child may still move a little and sometimes make noises. They may not be able to breathe well on their own. There should always be at least one additional qualified professional who will monitor your child’s: heart rate, heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and breathing –  during the procedure and until they wake up. This professional will also determine when your child is ready to go home.

General anesthesia:

  • This is used for more extreme needs, such as an issue requiring extensive oral surgery. Under general anesthesia, your child will be completely asleep and pain free. Specially-trained anesthesia professionals (physicians, dentists, or certified nurse anesthetists) will administer medications and monitor your child while the dentist or oral surgeon performs the dental procedure or surgery. Anesthesia can be given in a dental office that is specially equipped, an ambulatory surgical center (ASC), or a hospital.

If the subject of sedation comes up, now you’ll understand the options.

For addition information, to have a question answered, or to make an appointment, please call us at West Olds Dental at (587) 855-4747 or click here to visit our website.


We’re pleased to offer a FREE report that provides addition important dental information. Why not get your copy now? The Parent’s Guide to Children’s Oral Health is just a click away. And it’s absolutely FREE.



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