Sedation is a technique to guide a child’s behavior during dental treatment. Medications are used to help increase cooperation and to reduce anxiety or discomfort associated with dental procedures. Sedative medications cause most children to become relaxed and drowsy. Unlike general anesthesia, sedation is not intended to make a patient unconscious or unresponsive.
Children who have a level of anxiety that prevents good coping skills or are very young and do not understand how to cope in a cooperative fashion, or those requiring extensive dental treatment should be sedated. Sedation can also be helpful for some patients who have special needs.
Utility of Sedation
Sedation is used for a child’s safety and comfort during dental procedures. It allows the child to cope better with dental treatment and helps prevent injury to the child from uncontrolled or undesirable movements. Sedation promotes a better environment for providing dental care.
Various medications can be used to sedate a child. Medicines will be selected based upon your child’s overall health, level of anxiety and dental treatment recommendations.
Sedation can be used safely and effectively when administered by a pediatric dentist who follows the sedation guidelines of the AAPD. Your pediatric dentist will discuss sedation options and patient monitoring for the safety and comfort of your child.
Children often perceive a parent’s anxiety which makes them more fearful. They tolerate procedures best when their parents understand what to expect and prepare them for the experience. If you have any questions about the sedation process, please ask. As you become more confident, so will your child.
Should your child become ill, contact your pediatric dentist to see if it is necessary to postpone the appointment. Tell your pediatric dentist about any prescribed, over-the-counter or herbal medications your child is taking. Check with your pediatric dentist to see if routine medications should be taken the day of the sedation.
Your pediatric dentist will provide you with additional detailed instructions before your sedation visit. It is very important to follow the directions regarding fasting from fluids and foods prior to the sedation appointment.
Your pediatric dentist will evaluate your child’s health status and discharge your child when she is responsive, stable and ready to go. Children recover from effects of sedatives at different rates so be prepared to remain at the office until the after-effects are minimal. Once home, your child must remain under adult supervision until fully recovered from the effects of the sedation. Your pediatric dentist will discuss specific post-sedation instructions with you, including appropriate diet and physical activity.