When you think of taking your child to the dentist, you're probably not thinking about them being sedated. However, if your child needs to have dental work carried out, sedation may be required and may prevent your child from developing a fear of future dental appointments. Dental sedation relaxes children and may be recommended if a lengthy procedure is required or if your child is very anxious about dental appointments. Children who panic and struggle during dental exams can suffer an accidental injury, so they may benefit from sedation. It can also be beneficial for children with special needs who are unable to fully understand what's happening to them or are unable to follow instructions during their appointment. Here's an overview of the types of dental sedation offered to children:

Oral Sedation

If your child is to receive oral sedation, your dentist will either give you an oral sedative to take home and give to your child ahead of their appointment, or they will give your child the sedative in their office and ask them to wait in the waiting room until it takes effect. Oral sedatives tend to be fast-acting, and taking them at home can be a great option for children who are very anxious about visiting the dentist. Your child will be drowsy for some time after taking this sedative, so expect to take them straight home after their appointment and ensure they can rest for the remainder of the day.

Inhalation Sedation

Nitrous oxide is used for inhalation sedation and is given right before treatment commences. Nitrous oxide can cause feelings of euphoria and will be administered in small doses throughout your child's treatment. This incremental dosing ensures your child does not receive too much. Inhalation sedation wears off quickly, so your child won't feel drowsy after their appointment. You can prepare your child for receiving this type of sedation by letting them know the dentist will put a mask over their mouth to administer the gas and that they should not feel any pain or discomfort, but they me experience a tingling sensation in their fingers and toes.

These two types of sedation can be used for any treatment carried out in your dentist's office. If your child needs extensive restorative work carried out, they will likely be referred to a dental hospital where they can be given a general anaesthetic.

If you think your child would benefit from sedation for an upcoming dental appointment, have a chat with a children's dentist.