At South Valley Pediatric dentistry, we know that cavities and fillings can be frightening for children, so we do everything in our power to make children feel comfortable and calm while they have dental treatment done. Sometimes this means one of our dentists will propose a treatment plan that includes sedation in one form or another. In children with high anxiety, very young children, or patients with special needs, sedation appointments can help them get dental work done which they otherwise would not be able to sit still for. However, parents sometimes find that sedation appointments can feel unfamiliar and frightening. We strive to provide all the information necessary to help parents feel at ease about these various treatment options, and the benefits and risks of each type of sedation.
Our dentists may suggest one of three types of sedation depending on the age, comfort level, special needs, and behavioral history of your child:
- Oral Sedation: Dr. Chamberlain and Dr. Bower often recommend Oral Sedation for children who fight their initial dental cleanings and examinations. During an Oral Sedation, children swallow medicine which calms them down and makes them very sleepy. Sometimes Oral Sedation will put the child completely to sleep, but often they will stay slightly alert, which allows the dentist to communicate with them during treatment. This mild form of sedation generally works well for children who need a little help to make the visit less scary.
- In-Office IV Sedation: If necessary, the dentist may instead advise an IV sedation to be done in our office. During an IV sedation an anesthesiologist comes to our office. He or she will administer medicine through a small shot, which puts the child completely asleep. To help the child ignore this unpleasant poke, a dental assistant will encourage the child to pick out a prize while the anesthesiologist gives the medicine. Often patients are not even aware that they’ve had a shot. Once the child is completely asleep, the anesthesiologist monitors breathing and heart rate while the dentist completes all necessary dental work.
- Hospital Visit: Occasionally, very young children (especially those younger than three), patients with special needs, or children who need extensive dental treatment may go to the hospital for a sedation. The hospital has doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists available in case of emergency in addition to your usual dentist and dental assistants, who will preform all dental work under IV sedation.
All three forms of sedation have the added benefit of allowing the child to partially or completely forget the experience, which means they won’t have continuing fear of their dentist or dental office. Not every child requires sedation, but for those who do, having sedation options available can make dental work go much more smoothly. For more information about the various types of sedations we offer, call our office at 801-489-1301. Our staff is happy to address any questions or concerns regarding sedation appointments.