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sedating children for dental work

Sedating Children for Dental work

  • May 08, 2020


Your child has been diagnosed with cavities and now the dentist wants to “sedate” him.  It sounds nerve wrecking!

The need for dental treatment in children is very important because they have a lifetime ahead of them. There are situations when children need to undergo invasive dental treatment. However, unlike the adults, children are usually too scared or uncooperative to allow the dentist to perform the treatment under local anesthesia. In these cases, non-cooperative and anxious children are given dental treatment under sedation.

Forms of sedation

The dentist will choose the mildest form of sedation that will suffice. The options are:

  • Conscious Sedation – Sometimes the efforts to relax the patient, to allay fears, or to prevent violent obstructive movements is not enough. In that case, conscious sedation is used. During conscious sedation the patient remains conscious of what goes on. He or she can respond to pain, cues, commands and protective reflexes are retained. The child can also, inform the dentist of any pain they feel. Conscious Sedation may be done in many ways:
  • Inhalation Sedation – Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is mixed with oxygen, and given through a face mask. The gas acts fast, and after the treatment, the effect wears out quickly. Patients should have had only a light meal.
  • Oral Sedation- For stronger sedation oral medicines may be given, in liquid or tablet form. With a proper dose the child will be sleepy but can be readily aroused. The child will be able to obey simple commands by the dentist. Nausea or vomiting may occur in some patients.
  • Other Methods of sedation- Intravenous or intra-muscular sedatives can also be given per the situation. Suppositories may also be used in younger children.
  • General anesthesia – When the dental surgeon needs to keep the patient unconscious for a longer period he or she will use a general anesthesia. The child will be unconscious and will need time to recover senses and muscle control.

Before and After

Before sedation / anesthesia, the patient will normally be required to have had only a light meal. In case of general anesthesia, the child needs to be kept under surveillance till he or she recovers her senses and control fully. The patient may also react to food intake, so it is very important to follow the instructions given by the dentist.

*For a more in depth information on sedating children, guidelines and procedures, you may visit:

the American Association of Pediatrics

*To book a trusted dentist in your area you may search our carefully screened dental clinics.