SuperKids dental office in Alexandria

What to Expect From Dental Sedation

If your child gets nervous about dental work or if they have to undergo a lengthy or complex procedure, your child’s pediatric dentist may recommend dental sedation. You might wonder what you and your child can expect. Fortunately, our dentist offers dental sedation and frequently helps patients understand what they can expect from sedation dentistry in Alexandria.

Types of Sedation Dentistry in Alexandria

Our dentist offers several types of dental sedation, and there are many important differences between them. The type we recommend to patients depends largely on the length of the procedure and the patient’s personal preferences, health history, and level of anxiety. We’re glad to discuss your child’s options with you, and review how we administer the sedation, how the sedation will feel, and what you and your child might expect during their recovery.

Nitrous oxide

Dentists started administering nitrous oxide way back in the 1840s, making it the oldest form of dental sedation. It continues to be one of the most popular forms of dental sedation in use today.

To administer nitrous oxide, a member of your dental team will place a small mask over your child’s nose. They will instruct your child to inhale deeply a few times as they start the flow of nitrous oxide. Our orthodontist in Alexandria has direct control over how much sedation your child receives. 

It takes just a few minutes for nitrous oxide to take effect. It will make your child feel calmer and more relaxed. In fact, nitrous oxide can make your child giggle, earning its nickname “laughing gas.” Your child will be fully awake the entire time they receive nitrous oxide; they’ll be able to ask and answer questions, and they’ll remember the procedure clearly.

When your dentist has completed your child’s dental treatment, they will replace laughing gas with pure oxygen to flush out any leftover nitrous oxide remaining in your little one’s system. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly. Depending on the procedure your child underwent, they may be able to resume their normal activities right away. 

Nitrous oxide might be right for your child if they feel just a little anxious about your dental procedure, but still want to feel awake and aware during their care. Laughing gas may be the right choice if your child is undergoing a minor procedure, or if you want your child to have a short recovery time.

Oral conscious sedation

Oral conscious sedation comes in the form of a pill, or less commonly a liquid, which your child swallows 30 to 60 minutes before their procedure. Dentists generally reserve the liquid form for their pediatric patients. This type of sedation will make your child a bit drowsy; they might even fall asleep. Your child will be able to ask and answer question, though.

The effects of oral sedation can last for 2 to 8 hours, depending on the specific drug used. In fact, your should avoid riding a bicycle or doing other complex tasks for 24 hours after receiving this type of dental sedation. 

You may choose oral sedation over IV sedation for your child if they are very anxious or need to have an especially lengthy or complex dental procedure, but don’t want to have a needle put into your child’s arm.

IV sedation

Intravenous (IV) sedation involves the delivery of a sedative directly into your body through a vein in your child’s arm. Our team of dental professionals will monitor your child’s oxygen levels, blood pressure, and heart rate the entire time they are sedated. Our dentist can administer medication to reverse the effects of IV sedation, if necessary.

IV sedation is the deepest form of dental sedation. Your child will be asleep during the procedure and have no memory of it when they wake up. People often refer to oral sedation and IV sedation as “sleep dentistry.”

Your child will feel groggy for several hours as the medication leaves their system. They’ll need a ride home, and should take the rest of the day off from work or school. 

This type of dental sedation may be right for your child if they have severe dental anxiety, or if they have to undergo a particularly long or complex procedure.

Care During the First 24 to 48 Hours after Dental Sedation

Once your child gets home, we recommend that they take it easy for the first 24 to 48 hours after undergoing dental sedation. They should plan to take a nap, for example, and rest quietly for the remainder of the day. Your child should stand up slowly in the hours following sedation, as the medication may make them lightheaded.

Some medications used for dental sedation can make your child feel a bit nauseated. Avoid serving them a heavy meal immediately after getting home. If they feel nauseated, have your child start slowly with sips of water or broth then work your way up to solid food. Avoid especially sweet or spicy food for the first day or so.

Where can I get information about sedation dentistry near me?

For more information on what you can expect from dental sedation, consult with your pediatric dentist in Alexandria. At SuperKids Pediatric Dentistry – Orthodontics, we offer state-of-the-art dentistry and world class service for all kids, from infancy to adolescence.

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Mt. Vernon


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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