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How Pain-Free Pediatric Dentist Anesthesia Works

Not all children are scared of the dentist, but plenty of them fear for anything from a teeth-cleaning to having a cavity filled. Pediatric sedation dentistry can make the situation less traumatizing. Anesthesia is a requirement for some procedures, as well. Children who have a gum or tooth infection, for example, may need general anesthesia so that the dentist can find out what’s going on and fix the problem.

The subject of anesthesia is sometimes frightening for parents. No one wants to think of their child being sedated. To that end, understanding how pain-free anesthesia from their kid’s dentist works is helpful, too. Knowing what to expect will set your worries at ease, which allows you to explain the process to your child, as well.

If you and your child are near Las Vegas and are in need of sedation dentistry, contact Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas to schedule an appointment.

Different Types of Anesthesia

Pediatric dentists won’t recommend anesthesia unless it’s necessary. He or she will assess your child’s condition, behavior, and general feelings, but it isn’t a decision that dentists make lightly. In cases where your child has to be admitted to the hospital and an oral surgeon does the procedure, however, anesthesia is practically a guarantee. In-office visits depend entirely on the dentist, the child, the treatment, and the parent. As you discuss your child’s options, you also need to learn about the varying types of anesthesia and sedation.

Nitrous oxide is the mildest, least invasive form of pediatric dentist anesthesia. Anytime you hear about laughing gas, nitrous oxide is what’s being referred to. It’s not uncommon for children to feel silly under this type of anesthesia. They don’t fall asleep, though. Nitrous oxide causes extreme relaxation and pain relief.

As the name implies, mild sedation is also a gentle form of anesthesia. The dentist administers it to your child during the procedure. Similar to laughing gas, it doesn’t put your child to sleep, and he or she may even be able to answer questions. Afterward, however, they’re unlikely to even remember the procedure. One benefit of mild sedation is that the dentist can administer the medication as needed while working on your child’s teeth.

Moderate sedation goes a bit deeper. Children feel sleepy, but they can still respond to commands. They usually have no memory of their time in the dentist’s chair after the medication wears off, though. While stronger than mild sedation, moderate sedation can be administered as the dentist works, too.

In contrast, deep sedation requires IV medications. Although your child may shift or make noises, they are completely sedated. The application of deep sedation involves the presence of a qualified anesthesiologist and an assistant to keep an eye on your child’s vitals, such as his or her breathing and heart rate.

The same goes for general anesthesia. It puts your child into a deep sleep. Not all offices are equipped to administer general anesthesia, which requires specialized equipment as well as a staff certified in anesthesiology.

In choosing a dentist for your child, you should inquire about sedation options during your first conversation. Offices that don’t do sedation or aren’t equipped for anesthesia may not have a place on your shortlist.

The Gang’s All Here

Depending on the type of dental anesthesia used for your kid, the dentist might be joined by several professionals. General dentists may not be trained to perform specific procedures. For children, it’s often best to find a pediatric dentist who’s undergone additional training to work with children. The procedure may require the skill of an oral surgeon or a maxillofacial specialist, as well. These doctors are dentists who often have a medical degree and a certified specialty. Some of them are also certified to administer anesthesia. In any case, it’s imperative to have a trained anesthesiologist in the room. A nurse anesthetist has the training necessary to deliver certain types of sedation, while dental sedation assistants can monitor anesthetized patients.

Prepping for Sedation

Before going under pediatric dental anesthesia, your child has to follow certain rules. The dentist will let you know exactly what to do. It’s important that your child fasts for a set number of hours before being sedated. They shouldn’t eat anything and can only ingest clear liquids. Someone on staff will call to remind you to start the fasting process one business day prior to your kid’s procedure.

The rules are different for babies under a year old. Depending on whether they breastfeed or drink formula, they can still eat four to six hours beforehand respectively. Older children can drink water up to a certain point, along with other clear liquids, such as apple juice or Pedialyte. Talk to the dentist about your child’s regular medications to find out what’s safe to take.

You have the option to sit with your child as the medication takes effect, at least in most circumstances. Children can bring items from homes such as stuffed animals and blankets. If necessary, the dentist can give your little ones a calming medication before the anesthesia, just to ease the process.

The After-Effects

Most types of kid dentist anesthesia have side effects. Feelings of silliness often persist. Your child may be drowsy afterward, as well. After general anesthesia, it’s not uncommon to experience numbness in the mouth, nose, and throat. Sore throats often occur, as does soreness around the teeth and gums. Sensitivity lasts for a few hours, which will impact your child’s diet. It’s better to avoid eating or drinking for about an hour afterward. Then, give your child soft foods. Be aware that some children feel dizzy or nauseous.

Once you and the dentist decide on the type of sedation, you can explain to your child how pediatric dentist anesthesia works and what to expect. Knowing what happens will make both of you feel better.