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For many restorative procedures, tooth extractions and other oral surgeries, sedation is often necessary to improve patient comfort and help keep restless children at ease.  Different types of sedation can be necessary depending on your child’s anxiety level and the amount of treatment they need.  Our mission is to ensure that all of our guests have positive and comfortable experiences during treatment, and Dr. Whittington will review all of the options with you so that you can choose the one that best fits your child’s needs.

Types of Sedation

There are three types of sedation. The first type is the administration of a breathable gas known as nitrous oxide.  Also called laughing gas, nitrous oxide is very mild but effective for easing fearful or anxious children. Its effects progress quickly, and as soon as the soft nasal mask that delivers the gas is removed, its effects wear off.

The second type of sedation is delivered orally. Oral, conscious sedation involves prescribing a medication that is developed specifically to combat anxiety.  It stops the chemical reactions in the brain that produce feelings of intense panic and worry so that children can receive treatment without fear or concern. Patients will not be unconscious, but the effects of this medication may make them feel groggy.

Intravenous (IV) sedation, also known as conscious sedation, is a more powerful. This method of sedation is ideal for patients who have medical conditions that make it difficult for them to sit still for extended periods of time or conditions that make it necessary to reduce stress levels during treatment.  With IV conscious sedation, patients are still able to respond to verbal commands but will, most likely, have no memory of the procedure.

Types of Anesthesia

There are two types of anesthesia, local and general.  Local anesthetic is administered only to the area being treated. In dental settings, local anesthesia is injected at and around the treatment site. This is done because soft tissue and teeth have nerve endings. When performing procedures such as root canal therapy or placing restorations, local anesthetic will prevent feelings of discomfort. General anesthesia is an induced state of medical unconsciousness, and it is used for complex or long procedures. Administered intravenously, general anesthesia includes a combination of prescription analgesics and sedatives.

Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation presents many benefits to young patients – especially those with special needs, those who have anxiety about dental treatment and those receiving surgical care.  The medication used in sedation dentistry promotes a calm and peaceful feeling that makes children feel comfortable and free of worry and is notably useful during procedures where stillness is ideal because treatment can be obstructed by fidgety movements.  Lastly, sedation can prevent the development of dental phobias by helping patients develop positive associations with visits to the dentist.

Call Whittington Pediatric Dentistry today to reserve an appointment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to promoting a comfortable environment for our patients, we offer various types of sedation and anesthesia. Sedation and anesthesia are beneficial for reducing discomfort, anxiety and restlessness so that children can receive the oral healthcare they deserve. The types of sedation we use are nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation and intravenous (IV) sedation. We also utilize local and general anesthesia.

Nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas, is a safe analgesic and mild sedative. Used in medical settings for over a century, nitrous oxide is delivered through a soft nasal mask. Its effects work quickly and it is ideal for helping children feel at ease and comfortable during routine checkups and cleanings.

Oral conscious sedation involves the administration of sedative medication in tablet form. This is ideal for more invasive procedures or for children with moderate dental phobias.

IV sedation, or general anesthesia, is reserved for children particular needs, those who are prone to restlessness and those receiving oral surgery.

Sedation is very beneficial for children who have moderate to severe dental phobias and clinical-related anxieties. Our mission is to make sure children receive comfortable treatment and associate positive memories with visiting the dentist. If your child is afraid of shots, there are ways we can administer local anesthetic without causing fear. We can also use techniques to administer local anesthetic in injection form that are almost unnoticeable to children. For instance, we may administer nitrous oxide gas and apply numbing cream before injecting local anesthetic so that fearful children do not experience discomfort. We may also pull operatory mirrors away from view so that children do not see needles and other instruments in their reflections.

Determining the type of sedation we use for a patient is a carefully considered process. Sedation and/or anesthesia is tailored to the unique needs of a child and only used when our dentist deems it appropriate. Moreover, dosages are prescribed after considering a child’s weight, height, metabolism, known health conditions, medication history, and past surgical history. When sedation is administered, our practice follows strict protocols to ensure the safety of our guests.