According to researchers, up to 20.2% of children and adolescents experience dental anxiety. This can impact their overall dental health as it may prevent them from visiting the dentist as often as they should. 

Does your child have dental anxiety or any other condition that makes visiting the dentist a challenge? In that case, sedation dentistry might be the best option for them. 

We’re here to talk about the different types of sedation dentistry services we offer to our young patients. Read on to learn more. 

Nitrous Oxide Sedation 

Nitrous oxide sedation, often referred to as “laughing gas,” is a safe and effective method used in dentistry to help patients feel more relaxed and comfortable during dental procedures. It’s a mild form of sedation that is suitable for many patients of all ages. It’s particularly fantastic for children as it’s safe and wears off right after the dental procedure. 

Nitrous oxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is mixed with oxygen and administered through a small mask placed over the child’s nose. When the child breathes it in, it produces a calming effect, and sometimes euphoria. This is what gave it the nickname “laughing gas.”

It helps children feel more at ease and reduces anxiety or fear associated with dental treatments. Time tends to feel like it’s moving faster when you’re using laughing gas, so even a long procedure can feel quick and easy for the youngest patients. 

While a child is under laughing gas sedation, they still stay conscious and responsive. They can still communicate with the dental team and follow instructions. They can also let the dentist know if they’re experiencing pain (in which case the dentist can use more oral anesthetic or more nitrous oxide).

After nitrous oxide sedation, your children’s dentist in Lexington will administer oxygen. This will clear out the laughing gas and the child will return to their fully aware state! 

Again, nitrous oxide is safe for most patients. If you have any questions about its safety or how you should prepare your child, ask your Lexington pediatric dentist for more information. 

Oral Conscious Sedation

For children with severe dental anxiety, nitrous oxide may not be enough. In this case, oral conscious sedation is another viable option. 

It’s good for anxious children, children who are unable to cooperate with the dentist, and children who have certain special needs. It is safe for most patients. It’s even great for children who fear the needle for oral anesthetic. 

The process begins with a discussion between the dentist and parents to determine if oral conscious sedation is suitable for the child. If it is, the dentist will prescribe medication in the form of a pill or liquid that the child will take about an hour before the appointment so it can take effect.

Oral conscious sedation helps children feel sleepy and less anxious. It does not put them to sleep all the way, but it helps them relax and stay calm during their dental visit.

This makes things easier for your child and the Lexington children’s dentist alike. 

During the appointment, the child will still be awake. This means that they can follow instructions and tell the dentist if they’re experiencing any pain. Some children may drift off under the effect of the medication, but this is uncommon. 

Through the procedure, the dentist and their staff will be monitoring your child’s vital signs to make sure that they’re okay. There is nothing to worry about. 

After the dental procedure, the effects of the sedation medicine will wear off over the following hours. Unlike nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation may take some time to go away completely. 

The child may feel a bit groggy or tired, so it’s important to have a responsible adult accompany them and assist with their recovery.

General Anesthesia  

When it comes to dentistry for children, some dentists recommend more “extreme” sedation. Don’t worry. Under the watchful eyes of a superstar dental team, it’s still safe.

That’s where general anesthesia comes into play. It’s a method of sedation that can help kids stay asleep and pain-free during complex dental procedures or surgeries. It involves the use of medications that cause a deep sleep-like state.

Before a dental procedure requiring general anesthesia, the child will have a thorough medical evaluation to ensure they are healthy enough for this type of sedation. On the day of the procedure, the child will go to a special room with all the necessary equipment and monitoring devices to make sure they’re safe and healthy for the duration. 

Before the procedure, a medical professional will give the child medicine through an IV or a mask. The medicine helps the child fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the procedure.

While the child is under general anesthesia, the dentist can perform the necessary dental work without causing any pain or discomfort. The child will not feel anything during the procedure and will not have any memory of it afterward. 

When the procedure is over, the child will start to recover from the effects of the general anesthesia and wake up. It’s important for a trusted adult to be available to take care of them while they’re feeling drowsy. 

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for Your Child?

If you have a child who’s experiencing dental anxiety or if you know they’re not capable of cooperating with a dentist, sedation dentistry may be the best option for them.

Sedation dentistry keeps children fear-free and comfortable for the duration of their procedures. Regardless of which option you choose, it will result in a more relaxing experience for your child. 

If your child is ready for their next dentist appointment, the Lexington pediatric dentistry experts at Dentistry for Children are here to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.