Just as adult patients do, children with significant dental pain or an infection need to undergo procedures that require them to receive general anesthesia or sedation. Unlike adults, kids often do not understand the reason for the procedure or why they need to lie perfectly still. They may also feel frightened by the sounds of a dental drill and other equipment the dentist uses while working on them.
When a child’s age or mental abilities affect their ability to cooperate during a dental procedure, parents and dentists may decide that sedation is best. Sedation allows pediatric patients to relax and not feel anxious while a dentist completes the work.
We are pleased to offer the option of sedation dentistry at Luce Tooth Pediatric Dentistry, but we also understand that parents have many questions about it. Our team would like you to know that we follow the most recent guidelines regarding general anesthesia and deep sedation for children.
AAP and AAPD Guidelines for Pediatric Anesthesia and Sedation
In 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AADP) updated the guidelines on anesthesia and sedation used by pediatric dentists and oral surgeons. The current guidelines require at least two people to be in the treatment room when a pediatric patient receives anesthesia. One person is the oral surgeon or pediatric dentist and the other is an observer with one of these credentials:
- A second oral surgeon
- Certified registered nurse anesthetist
- Dentist anesthesiologist
- Physician anesthesiologist
The purpose of having two people in the room is to ensure that the oral surgeon or pediatric dentist gives the right dose and follows established procedures. The current guidelines also require two people to be in the room in the rare instance that a child has an adverse reaction and needs immediate medical intervention.
What Types of Dental Anesthesia and Sedation Are Available for Children?
Most types of anesthesia and sedation available to adults for dental procedures are also available for children. Dr. Luce determines the proper amount to administer based on your child’s weight and medical history.
This type of sedation puts your child to sleep for the duration of the dental procedure, and your child receives the medication intravenously. Although your child may move a bit while under deep sedation, these are typically not conscious movements. Independent breathing is more challenging, which is why one other observer must always be present.
The second professional in the room continuously monitors your child’s heart rate and rhythm, oxygen saturation level, and blood pressure. This person helps your child wake up from deep sedation and determines when he or she is ready to go home.
Children who receive moderate sedation are sleepy yet remain awake enough to respond to the requests of the dentist or oral surgeon. Dental patients typically take these medications orally before the start of the procedure. Your child will wake up easily with moderate sedation but may not remember anything about the procedure.
Dental patients are the most awake and responsive when they receive mild sedation. This option is most appropriate for older children or adults who want to feel more relaxed during the dental procedure but are not fearful of it.
Children who go under general anesthesia are completely asleep and do not experience any pain. The quickest way to administer general anesthesia is through IV tubes that deliver the medication directly to the bloodstream. One staff member will monitor your child who has received general anesthesia while Dr. Luce completes the procedure.
Commonly referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a mild, minimally invasive sedative that children take in by inhaling fumes underneath a plastic mask. Your child will probably not go to sleep after receiving nitrous oxide, but he or she will feel more relaxed and may act a bit silly or giggle a lot.
Benefits of Choosing a Pediatric Dentist When Your Child Requires Sedation
All dentists must obtain a bachelor’s degree, graduate from dental school, complete residencies, and obtain a state license. Every general dentist has this background, regardless of the specific populations they treat. However, pediatric dentists have completed each of the above requirements plus a two to three-year residency serving only child patients. They also have board certification from passing a national exam after completing their pediatric residency.
When you choose to bring your child to Luce Tooth Pediatric Dentistry, you can feel confident that Dr. Luce has extensive training and experience working with children. The entire staff of our Seminole, FL pediatric dental practice knows just what to do to ensure that your child feels comfortable in our care. We take our responsibility seriously because we know that a child’s early experience at the dentist can impact their attitude toward professional dental care for a lifetime.
Please Contact Us with Questions or to Schedule an Appointment
If we have informed you that your child requires a dental procedure and could benefit from anesthesia or sedation, we will discuss each of the above options with you before scheduling the appointment. We also invite you to contact us if you have more questions about pediatric dental sedation or need to schedule an appointment for a routine cleaning and exam.