Nitrous Oxide & IV Sedation

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At Carr Pediatric Dentistry, we do everything that we can to ensure your child has a positive dental experience. For this reason, we offer different levels of dental sedation to ease your child’s anxieties and keep them calm and still while they have dental work completed. Conscious sedation allows your child to remain awake and partially aware of what is happening, while also providing a deep feeling of relaxation. IV sedation is a deeper form of sedation that can be used to either induce a light sleep or render your child completely unconscious.

Did You Know?

IV sedation is the easiest sedation method to control since it is administered directly to the bloodstream. Additionally, the effects of IV sedation can be noticed within seconds of administering the medication.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does my child need sedation for dental procedures?

Whether or not your child needs dental sedation will depend on the type of procedure being performed and their personality. Some children are fine without sedation, while it can greatly benefit others. We generally recommend dental sedation in cases where:

  • Multiple or invasive procedures are needed
  • Your child is already in pain before starting the procedure
  • A dental emergency has occurred
  • Your child cannot sit still
  • Your child has a sensitive gag reflex
  • Your child is fearful or has dental anxiety

If needed, the type and extent of sedation your child receives will depend on the procedure being performed, their medical history, and how your child responds to dental treatment. Before starting any procedure, our pediatric dentists will discuss whether or not dental sedation is appropriate for your child.

Is dental sedation safe for children?

Conscious sedation, also known as nitrous oxide sedation,  is considered safe for children when performed properly by an experienced pediatric dentist. Since nitrous oxide has no lingering effects after its use, many pediatric dentists use nitrous oxide as a way to relax their patients. The American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) deem IV sedation to be safe for children as long as it is performed using specific guidelines. To learn more about these guidelines, see this article in the AAP June issue.

With that being said, there are always risks associated with any level of sedation. To minimize these risks, our pediatric dentists will thoroughly evaluate your child’s current health and medical history before using dental sedation.

How do I prepare my child for dental sedation?

The preparations for sedation will vary depending on the level of sedation you are looking to achieve. For example it is recommended that you prepare your child for both types of sedation by dressing them in loose-fitting, comfortable clothing with closed toed shoes. It is also advisable to bring a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or blanket for comfort.

Additionally, there are a few special preparations for IV sedation. For starters, you will need to keep your child from eating or drinking for 8 hours before their procedure. Luckily, most dental appointments that require IV sedation are performed in the morning so that your child won’t get too hungry.

What can my child expect when being sedated for dental work at Carr Pediatric Dentistry?

At Carr Pediatric Dentistry, we offer conscious and IV sedation. When your child receives conscious sedation, they can expect to wear a small mask over their nose. As they breathe through their nose, they will inhale the nitrous oxide gas. Nitrous oxide has been associated with feelings of euphoria, extreme calmness, heaviness, and sleepiness. Within minutes of inhaling the gas, your child will begin to feel the soothing effects. Throughout the procedure, they will be aware, but unbothered by the things happening around them. In some cases your child may fall into a light sleep. Once they stop inhaling nitrous oxide after the procedure, they will return to normal.

When your child receives IV sedation, they will need to have a small needle IV placed in their arm. This leads directly into the bloodstream and allows for the fast absorption of sedation medications. With IV sedation, your child will either be put into a twilight sleep (light sleep) or they will be completely unconscious (general anesthesia). Children sedated with IV sedation will often have little to no memory of their procedures.

How do I care for my child after having dental sedation?

If your child received nitrous oxide conscious sedation, then they will quickly return to their normal selves, one they stop inhaling the gas. However, if your child had IV sedation, they will most likely remain groggy for most of the day. Because of this, you will need to carefully monitor them, and make sure they get enough fluids and rest. Depending on the type of procedure performed, you may also have postoperative guidelines to follow.

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