While few children enjoy going to the dentist, proper dental hygiene is critical to maintaining the health of not only teeth and gums, but overall health. Starting oral hygiene and dental checkups as a young age are important for a lifetime of good health. Unfortunately, children aren’t always cooperative about sitting still for the dentist or dental hygienist, so in some situations, the dentist may recommend sedation. Many parents are worried about the idea, so it’s important to understand the options to put minds at rest.

What Types of Sedation Are Available?

Depending on the procedure, the dentist may recommend different types of sedation: mild, moderate and deep.

Mild sedation. This usually consists of nitrous oxide (so-called “laughing gas”) which doesn’t render the patient unconscious but helps them relax for the procedure. Blended with oxygen, nitrous oxide is administered through a small breathing mask. Once the procedure and finished and the mask is removed, the child will quickly become alert. He or she will probably remember most of the procedure.

Mild sedation can also mean orally administered drugs that will relax the child and help them hold still and cooperate during the procedure but will not put them into a state of unconsciousness. These drugs are safe and will allow your child to move and respond during the procedure but may make them temporarily sleepy. In both cases, the sedation is so mild that there is no need to monitor vital signs such as breathing and heart rate.

Moderate sedation. This type of sedation will make your child extremely drowsy, though usually able to respond to commands. The medication may take some time to wear off, and the child may not remember the procedure. As with mild sedation, this type of sedation doesn’t require monitoring of breathing or cardiovascular function. 

Deep sedation. This type of sedation will render your child mostly unconscious using intravenous drugs. A health care professional will monitor your child’s breathing and heart function during the procedure. The child will be mostly asleep, though he or she may move a little in response to stimulus or pain. When your child wakes, he or she will remember little, if anything, and may take a few minutes to shake off the effects.

The deepest sedation is general anesthesia, which renders the patient completely unconscious and unable to respond to commands or stimulus. Specially trained anesthesia professionals will administer the medications and monitor your child while the procedure is being carried out. General anesthesia is usually used only in specially equipped dental practices, ambulatory surgical centers (ASC), hospitals, and is reserved for the most complex dental procedures.

Today’s anesthesia is very safe and effective. Pediatric dentists are the professionals of choice for parents today, as they are especially skilled and equipped to handle children’s dental health needs and provide reassurance to both children and parents that procedures are safe.

Schedule a Dentist Visit for Your Child in Connecticut

In Connecticut, pediatric dentists like CT Pediatric Dentistry can ensure that children’s dental procedures are carried out under the right level of anesthetic to achieve the best results while ensuring procedures aren’t scary for children. To contact CT Pediatric Dentistry, call 860-523-4213 in West Hartford; 860-456-0506 in North Windham; or 860-673-3900 in Unionville, or visit our web site.