Sedation dentistry at First Bite Pediatric Dentistry involves using a medical addition in addition to behavior management to help operative dentistry become more tolerable. Parts of procedures can be difficult for patients (getting numb, tooth isolation like dental dams, mouth props, etc.), and sedation dentistry helps young patients or nervous grade school and adolescent patients get the care they need.
Types of Sedation
First Bite Pediatric Dentistry offers mild anxiolysis with nitrous oxide, more moderate sedation with oral sedation, and general anesthesia both in our Henderson pediatric dental office and in a surgery center.
Nitrous oxide is great for patients with mild dental anxiety or light treatment plans.
Inhaled sedation can include nitrous oxide. It is a rather mild sedation, and patients are completely aware and awake during treatment with nitrous oxide. You can expect some tingly feeling in the fingers and body as it slowly sets in, and then a feeling of relaxation.
Oral sedation is best suited for very nervous or young patients with more extensive treatment plans or patients whose parents expect their child to react much more emotionally to any discomforts, and where nitrous oxide alone won’t be enough to help the patients tolerate treatment safely and calmly.
Oral sedation is given through a liquid medication that patients drink before treatment. It takes between 15 to 45 minutes to take effect, depending on the medications that the doctor chooses. Patients will still be awake, but will much more “out of it.” Our office might use some combination of Hydroxyzine and Meperidine that has a longer onset but a smoother sedation for prolonged procedures, or use Midazolam, which has a shorter onset but works for less time for quick procedures like extractions.
General anesthesia is the use of either IV or inhaled anesthesia to put the patient completely asleep, so that the parent and doctor do not need to worry about the child getting overly anxious and uncooperative. The child’s breathing, heart rate, oxygenation, and vital signs are monitored before, during, and after dental treatment by an anesthesiologist, so that the doctor can complete the entire treatment plan (except in the most extreme cases) in one appointment, and the child wakes up without remembering any of the procedure. It is typically very safe for healthy patients, and involves getting a Health and Physical from the child's pediatrician to make sure no medical problems are missed.
Before and After Sedation
Before any sedation appointments, patients must have an empty stomach eight hours before. The biggest risk with sedation is nausea and vomiting from drinking the oral medications or from any airway or IV medications during general anesthesia, so we do not want to risk any choking hazards.
After sedation appointments, patients can eat light, cold, soft foods (think Jello, pudding, yogurt, and smoothies) to help ease the empty stomach. Heavy/fatty foods are discouraged since they may upset an empty stomach. Additionally, if your child wants to sleep after the procedure at home, be sure to have them sleep in a supervised area (couch, sofa, or living room) so you can tend to your child if he or she gets nauseous or sick after treatment.