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Are There Side Effects to Sedation Used in Child’s Dentistry?

female dentist examining young boy’s mouth

At Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental, we try to do everything we can to ensure your child’s time with us is a positive one. However, for some children, going to the dentist is a stressful experience. For those children, or even ones who simply have trouble sitting still for long procedures, we typically recommend sedation.

There are various kinds and levels of sedation dentistry, and each will have its own preparation and potential after-effects.

Types of Sedation

The different kinds of sedation used in children’s dentistry have various side effects, which we’ll get into in a moment. First, let’s look at the levels:

  • Nitrous oxide: Also known as laughing gas, it’s the lightest form of sedation. It simply relaxes your child without putting them to sleep. They may feel lightheaded or giggly. Nitrous oxide is also very easy to adjust depending on your child’s reaction.
  • Mild to moderate sedation: Oral medication to help the child relax. It’s slightly stronger than nitrous oxide while still remaining awake.
  • Deep sedation: Usually administered via an IV, deep sedation puts a child completely to sleep.
  • General anesthesia: The child is completely asleep and usually under the care of an anesthesiologist separate from the doctor.

Your dentist will discuss the child sedation dentistry options and side effects with you to determine which is the best one for your child.

Share History Before the Appointment

Before your appointment, it’s vital to provide your dentist with your child’s complete medical history. While your child is unlikely to have adverse reactions to the sedation options, your dentist needs to be able to make an informed decision about which type to use.

If your child is on any medications, it’s important to tell the dentist the exact kinds and doses. This will help avoid any negative interactions between the sedative and the medication.

Potential Child Sedation Dentistry Side Effects

Each level of sedation has the potential for side effects, but most are uncommon or very mild. Nitrous oxide is the most common level of sedation, so we’ll focus on those side effects.

  • Short-term: Potential side effects may include nausea or vomiting, shivering, feelings of dizziness. This usually occurs from inhaling too much of the gas and should fade quickly.
  • Long-term: Because nitrous oxide wears off so rapidly, there are no long-term side effects. If your child experiences any unusual issues, contact your doctor.

The other levels of sedation include the potential for dizziness, headaches, nausea, or skin irritation. Again, child sedation dentistry side effects are rare and usually very mild. If you have any concerns, discuss them with your dentist.

How to Prepare Your Child for Sedation Dentistry

mother holding crying son

If your little one is nervous about going to the dentist, a little preparation can go a long way. Try to visit the office before the appointment so your child can familiarize themselves with the rooms and staff. If that’s not possible, see if they can give your child a virtual tour.

Explain to your little one that they will be given a special breathing mask and it will help them relax. Tell them about the potential side effects of child sedation dentistry, using gentle but honest terms. Warn them they may feel a bit dizzy for a while and to tell you if they feel sick. Reassure them they will feel much better after they’re done.

You may be able to remain in the room with your child during the procedure. If this is the case, tell them you’ll be close by and they have nothing to fear.

Caring for Your Child at Home

Your child shouldn’t need any special care at home after nitrous oxide. It is a very safe child sedation dentistry option with minimal side effects. However, it’s best to keep them inside and resting until you make sure they feel completely back to normal. This is especially true if it’s their first time experiencing laughing gas.

Other forms of sedation may require aftercare steps at home. Consult with your pediatric dentist before the procedure to ascertain if there are any special steps or actions you should take after the appointment.

Trust Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental

We’re dedicated to providing professional dental health care to your child in a relaxed, inviting environment. If you’re concerned about the potential side effects of child sedation dentistry, give us a call at (775) 800-4117. We’re more than happy to discuss all the options with you so your child has the best care possible. Get in touch today!