Dr. Ben Liu of SuperKids pediatric dental, a sedation dentist

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for Your Child?

Many parents choose sedation dentistry because it allows dental treatment for nervous or very young patients. Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients remain calm and relaxed during dental treatment. A good pediatric dentist will understand the benefits of making dental visits comfortable for children and have the skills and knowledge to guide you through making the right choice for your child’s treatment.

Regular dental checks are crucial to maintaining dental health, but many children find a visit to the dentist an anxious event or struggle to keep still during treatment. Keeping dental visits pleasant and calm builds good habits and encourages the child to maintain their dental health.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry involves giving patients a light to moderate level of sedation before they undergo dental treatment, meaning that the patient is conscious but feels very relaxed. Different levels of sedation are available, and your dentist can advise you on which level is best to use. The different levels of sedation used in dentistry are:

  • Light sedation: Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is used for light sedation. The patient remains calm and conscious, and the dentist can top up the amount of gas delivered. The advantage of nitrous oxide is that it clears the bloodstream quickly, allowing patients to go about their business almost immediately after treatment.
  • Moderate sedation: This type of sedation is administered orally in pill form. The medication used is often in the valium family and is taken about an hour before treatment begins. The patient will feel drowsy but be awake and conscious. Increasing the dosage will increase the level of sedation, and many patients will fall asleep during treatment. This type of sedation takes some time to clear the bloodstream, so the patient cannot drive immediately after treatment.
  • Deep sedation: This type of sedation is also known as sleep dentistry, as the level of sedation is so deep that the patient is unconscious. Sleep sedation is delivered through IV and involves general anesthesia. Sleep sedation also requires a specially trained dentist or anesthesiologist to monitor and help maintain the sedation. This type of sedation is only given in specialist settings and is used for individuals who need extensive dental work or have extreme anxiety or health issues that require them to be sedated.

Why Choose Sedation Dentistry for Your Child?

There are six reasons to choose sedation dentistry for your child. These are:

  • Dental anxiety: Some people find dental treatment frightening. The leading cause of dental anxiety in adults is a traumatic or unpleasant event during dental treatment as a child. Sedation dentistry can help to make treatment a calm, relaxed event and encourage children to build a lifelong habit of regular dentist visits. 
  • Fear of needles: Many individuals have a fear of needles. Sedation relaxes the patient and allows the dentist to complete treatment quickly and safely.
  • Overly sensitive gag reflex: A gag reflex is necessary to expel foreign objects from the throat, but it can sometimes hinder the dentist from carrying out treatment. Sedation paralyzes the reflex and allows the dentist to work.
  • Difficulty sitting still or controlling movement: Young children are still learning about the world around them and often struggle with sitting still for long periods. Sedation dentistry helps ensure a child stays say and that the dentist can carry out the necessary treatment.
  • Special needs: Where a patient has a disability, it is often safer to use sedation so that dental procedures can be carried out without further risk to their health.
  • Pain relief: The medications used in sedation also act as pain relief, helping to relax the patient further.

What Dental Treatments Suit Dental Sedation?

The more invasive procedures which involve surgery are good candidates for dental sedation, as is tooth extraction. Dental sedation can also be used for routine dental procedures such as checkups and fillings.

Often, dental sedation is the best way to pull a tooth out in a child patient. Tooth extraction can be an unpleasant experience and provokes anxiety in many. Extracting a tooth requires the patient to sit still for a long time and involves using tools that can cause further damage if the patient does not sit still. Dental sedation can extract the tooth quickly and safely, ensuring the patient gets the treatment they need without causing anxiety or distress.

Common Concerns About Sedation Dentistry and the Role of the Pediatric Dentist

Parents have several concerns about sedation dentistry, particularly around the risk to their children and the side effects of any medication used. Sedation dentistry carries minimal risk. The medicines used are well-researched, tested and safe for children if a qualified individual carries out treatment. 

There are some side effects, and an experience pediatric dentist will be able to discuss your choices and point out the pros and cons of each type of sedation. Side effects can include drowsiness, nausea, headache and dry mouth.

It’s normal for children who receive dental sedation to wake slowly; your dentist will monitor the situation if this happens. Children who have received sedation may also be irritable on waking, snore, or experience fever. Again these are typical side effects and will pass quickly.

This is why it's crucial to research and ensure the dentist you choose has the right qualifications and experience to carry out sedation dentistry. If you’re searching for a pediatric dentist in DC, you must ensure they have extensive experience working with children and sedation. 

Here at Superkids, we are a team of highly qualified pediatric dentists in the Washington DC area with extensive skills in using sedation dentistry with young patients. We believe that to make a difference in pediatric dental treatment, we must start by making sure visiting the dentist is a stress-free experience. Using dental sedation is one of the tools we use to achieve that goal.

Choose SuperKids Dentistry for Your Child’s Dental Treatment

You'll no longer have to look for a "pediatric dentist near me." As one of Washington DC’s leading pediatric dentists, SuperKids Dentistry understands the importance of having a dentist you trust and your children love visiting. Dental treatment can, unfortunately, be a cause for anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be. Let us advise you on the procedures available, their pros and cons and what is best for your child. 

We pride ourselves on our high-quality patient care, and we treat everyone with the same level of positivity, professionalism and compassion — just as we would want from our own healthcare professionals. If you are looking for a pediatric dentist in Washington DC, with dental sedation experience, contact us today!

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We are excited to announce the GRAND OPENING of our fifth Superkids office in Mt Vernon, VA. Accepting new patients starting January 16th, 2023!

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