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What you Need to Know about Pediatric Dentist Anesthesia

dentist checking boy’s teeth

For some parents, the thought of their child going under anesthesia at the pediatric dentist is a cause for alarm. Immediately, many different thoughts begin to race through their head. What will happen to my child? Is it safe? Is it really the best option?

For certain kids, anesthesia is the best option to ensure they get the best possible outcome from their dental visit. Toothfairy Pediatric Dental has used safe sedation dentistry for years at our six Reno area locations. We understand that, as a parent, you have several questions about sedating your child. Let us answer some of the most common questions our doctors often hear about anesthesia.

What Is Pediatric Dentist Anesthesia?

Anesthesia dulls the senses and, in certain cases, causes a patient to sleep, allowing them to safely undergo a needed medical procedure. Anesthesia for kids at the dentist can be advantageous for several reasons. First, if a child is undergoing extensive or potentially painful dental work, anesthesia helps them to relax. Also, for children with special needs, sedation dentistry can be helpful in dealing with the symptoms of ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, or autism. Additionally, some children may have extreme discomfort or fear of visiting the dentist, and anesthesia can help them feel tranquil during treatment.

At Toothfairy Pediatric Dental, we utilize four different types of anesthesia. Listed from least intense to more potent, they include:

  • Nitrous oxide: Often called “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide allows a child to remain awake, relax, and stay pain-free during procedures. This is our most common form of sedation.
  • Oral sedation: This sedation comes in pill form. Most often, one pill is taken the night before the dental procedure, and another is taken an hour before your child’s appointment. Your child will also remain awake with oral sedation.
  • IV sedation: With this option, your child will have an IV placed in their arm that will administer a continuous sedative drip. This method often puts patients into a “twilight” state, in a zone between waking and sleeping. Often, they won’t remember the procedure when they’re done, or the memory will feel hazy.
  • General anesthesia: When this form of sedation is administered, your child will be asleep during the entire procedure, and they will be totally pain-free. This option is best suited for occasions where a young patient must be completely still for a long period of time.

Is Pediatric Dentist Anesthesia Safe?

Any time anesthesia is administered, there’s always a risk of complications. However, anesthesia risks for kids at the dentist are astoundingly low. Patients are monitored while they’re sedated to ensure that levels like their heart rate, oxygen, and blood pressure stay within safe parameters.

Before you agree to anesthesia for your child, make sure you ask the pediatric dentist about your questions or concerns. You’ll want to be well-informed so that you can best help your child prepare for their procedure. Also, if your child has any pertinent medical history, such as cardiovascular or pulmonary issues, make sure to mention those as well. In these instances. your pediatric dentist may require tests from your child’s pediatrician or specialists to ensure that your child can safely undergo anesthesia. Safety is their number one priority.

What’s The “Before Care” For Pediatric Dentist Anesthesia?

Your pediatric dentist will issue a list of directions to follow 24 hours before your child’s procedure. There will likely be limitations to what your child can eat and drink, so check the instructions carefully and call a nurse at the office if you have any questions. You may also find it helpful to dress your child in loose clothing for their appointment, as the anesthesiologist will need to attach several wires to your child to monitor their vital signs during the procedure.

Last, but not least, ask your child if they have a special toy or stuffed animal they want to take with them for comfort. Although sedation dentistry helps relieve anxiety, they will still appreciate having a special item nearby.

What Happens To My Child During Pediatric Dentist Anesthesia?

stethoscope and blood pressure cuff

After one final check of your child’s vital signs, it will be time to administer anesthesia. You can request to stay with your child until they are no longer aware that you’re there. This can help relieve any final jitters they may have about being sedated. Although the particulars of how sedation is administered will vary depending on what type of anesthesia your kid’s dentist gives them, the basic idea is always the same.

Next, you’ll sit in a nearby waiting room until your child’s procedure is complete. The dentist will then come to give you the final results once they’re finished. Before your child becomes lucid, you’ll be with them, so you’ll be right there next to them when they begin to come around.

What At-Home Care Does Pediatric Dentist Anesthesia Require?

Once the dentist is confident your child is largely clear of the effects of the anesthesia, you’ll be able to return home. For lighter sedation like laughing gas, your child will feel better quickly. On the other side of the spectrum, your child may feel a bit groggy or grouchy from general anesthesia for the remainder of the day. Understand that everyone responds to sedation differently, so you shouldn’t make any other plans for the rest of the afternoon or evening.

When your child gets home, they may be hungry. Check your child’s discharge instructions carefully to see what they can eat and when they’ll be able to eat it. Because of the sensitive work done to their mouth, your child may be restricted to soft foods or soups for a period of time.

Safe Pediatric Dentist Anesthesia From Toothfairy

girl in winter coat smiling

Although sedation dentistry is extremely safe, you still want to ensure that you use the services of a pediatric dentist who has experience and skill. In the Reno area, you can’t make a better choice than Toothfairy Pediatric Dental. Whether your child has a cracked tooth, needs a tooth pulled, or requires a root canal, we’ll take care of your child with the same concern and attention we’d use with our own children.

Still have questions? Contact us today through our online form, or call us at (775) 800-4117 for more information.