Since many of their patients are quite young, pediatric dentists frequently handle children who may not be comfortable with certain dental procedures. Because of this, pediatric dentists may rely on sedation dentistry when providing dental treatment for patients.

If you have concerns about how your child may respond to their treatment with a pediatric dentist, you may want to consider sedation dentistry for their next visit.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is the practice of using medication to relax patients while undergoing dental procedures. Although it may also be referred to as “sleep dentistry,” there are many kinds of sedation that do not involve “going under.” Let’s take a look.

What types of sedation dentistry are there?

  • Minimal sedation – The patient stays awake but definitely feels more relaxed.
  • Moderate sedation – Also known as “conscious sedation,” this level comes with the feeling of slowness and possible memory loss.
  • Deep sedation – The patient is still conscious, but will probably remember nothing about the procedure. The patient can still be awakened.
  • General anesthesia – This is the traditional form of anesthesia that renders the patient unconscious.

Dentists make use of the following types of sedation:

  • Inhaled minimal sedation – Nitrous oxide and oxygen inhaled through a mask over the nose provide minimal sedation, wearing off quickly and regulated by the dentist.
  • Oral sedation – Taken orally, this sedation can be rendered through a pill, most often Halcion (a form of Valium). Moderate sedation may be achieved depending on the level of the dosage.
  • IV moderate sedation – Sedation through a vein that can be continually adjusted, working more quickly because of direct access to the bloodstream. The dentist adjusts the level of sedation in real time.
  • Deep sedation and general anesthesia – These medications take the patient into unconsciousness. Patients under this form of sedation cannot be easily awakened, as they can with other forms of sedation.

Is Sedation dentistry regulated?

Sedation dentistry is regulated by the American Dental Association (ADA). The state board of dentistry determines the license, but the minimum guidelines are set at the federal level by the ADA.

What are the side effects of sedation dentistry?

Sedation is safe for the vast majority of patients. However, no form of medication is perfectly safe for everyone. There are some potential side effects patients may face:

  • Nitrous oxide – Laughing, headaches, feeling sleepy, faint, or dizzy, and possible vomiting
  • Oral sedation – Short term amnesia, drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, headaches
  • IV sedation – Bruising at the point of injection, lack of awareness, drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, headaches, vomiting
  • Deep sedation/general anesthesia – Loss of consciousness, dizziness, shivering and feeling cold, temporary confusion and memory loss

Is Sedation Dentistry safe for children?

Absolutely! Dentists are trained to provide only the dosage that will relax your child while keeping side effects to a minimum. In most cases, nitrous oxide (the gentlest of all sedation techniques) is enough to relax the child enough for a successful procedure.

Nia Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics does pediatric dentistry and pediatric orthodontics in two locations near Atlanta. We also provide services to teenagers, including sedation dentistry. Contact us today to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment for your child.