There are many reasons your child may need anesthesia for a dental procedure. Perhaps he or she will be undergoing a painful procedure or your child is very young. Your child may be overly fearful or nervous, so local anesthesia will not suffice. If your child has special needs, they may not be calm enough for a local anesthetic either. In any of these cases, a pediatric dentist may have several options available to you. The following are a few of them.
There may be an option for nitrous oxide
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a mild sedative that is used to take away anxiety. This is usually done at a dental clinic or office. Depending upon the reason for anesthesia in addition to a shot to numb the gums, this may be all that is required. Nitrous oxide has few side effects and wears off quickly, so your child may be completely recovered from the sedation before you get home. Because it is mild, it is only used for procedures done by a dentist and not an oral surgeon.
There may be an option for oral sedation
This is a stronger form of sedation than nitrous oxide, so it represents a medium-level form of sedation. For older children, they will be administered a pill to swallow, but for younger children, there is an easy-to-swallow liquid. This type of sedation is taken about an hour before the dental procedure, so it is in full effect. Because it is stronger, there is an amnesiac effect, so your child is not likely to remember what happened. For some children, this may be an important element of sedation.
There may be an option for intravenous sedation
Intravenous sedation is delivered through an IV and is done in a hospital setting or surgical center. An anesthesiologist will be responsible for the chemicals used for sedation and the dosage. Often it will be an oral surgeon that will perform the procedure in your child's mouth. Even though it is surgery, it is most commonly performed as an outpatient procedure, so you can take your child home after they have spent sufficient time in a recovery room. For certain oral surgeries, this may be the only option, but for children who require more sedation than mild or moderate methods can deliver, this may be the best option.
With most dental procedures, you may need more than a local anesthetic delivered by a syringe. Some children have great anxiety, and some of them fidget a lot, even after their gums are numb. In these situations, along with other similar behaviors, a child needs to relax with some nitrous oxide or a medium sedation strength found in a pill or liquid form, but a stronger form of sedation may be necessary. If so, then an IV may be needed in a surgical setting. Each child is different, so you'll need to discuss these options with your pediatric dentist, as they relate to your child and his or her particular issues.
Visit a pediatric dental clinic to learn more.Share