At Dentistry For Children, we understand that one of the biggest barriers to seeking dental treatment is dental anxiety and dental phobia. It is a very common experience for people and especially children to experience heightened levels of anxiety when anticipating a dental appointment.
Dental anxiety can prevent someone from seeking necessary dental treatment and much-needed preventative care that helps fight against cavities and tooth decay and can lead to needing more invasive dental procedures in the long run.
Most children are calm, comfortable and confident in a pediatric dental office. The office is designed for young people, and pediatric dentists have additional training in caring for infants, children and adolescents. Staff members choose to work in a pediatric dental office because they like children and want to cater to their special needs. These elements combine to make your child feel relaxed and special.
Sometimes, however, a child may feel anxious before or during treatment. Your child may need more support than a gentle, caring manner to feel comfortable. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a safe, effective sedative agent used to calm a child’s fear of the dental visit and enhance effective communication. Additionally, it works well for children whose gag reflex interferes with dental treatment.
Nitrous oxide/oxygen (N2O-O2) is a blend of two gases—oxygen and nitrous oxide. A fitted mask is placed over the nose and, as the patient breathes normally, uptake occurs through the lungs. At the end of treatment, it is eliminated after a short period of breathing oxygen and has no lingering effects.
Your child will smell a faint sweet aroma and experience a sense of well-being and relaxation. Since it may produce a feeling of giddiness or euphoria, it is often called “laughing gas.” Children sometimes report dreaming and their arms and legs may feel “tingly.” It raises the pain threshold and may even make the time appear to pass quickly. If your child is worried by the sights, sounds or sensations of dental treatment, he or she may respond more positively with the use of nitrous oxide/oxygen.
Very safe. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry. It is well tolerated. It has a rapid onset, is reversible, can be adjusted in various concentrations and is non-allergenic. Your child remains fully conscious—keeps all natural reflexes— when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen. He/she will be capable of responding to a question or request. Nitrous oxide/oxygen may also be used in combination with other sedative agents.
First, give your child little or no food in the two hours preceding the dental visit (occasionally, nausea or vomiting occurs when a child has a full stomach). Second, tell your pediatric dentist about any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child, as it may limit the effectiveness of nitrous oxide/oxygen. Third, tell your pediatric dentist if your child is taking any medication on the day of the appointment.
Pediatric dentists know that all children are not alike. Every service is tailored to your child as an individual. Nitrous oxide/oxygen may not be effective for some children, especially those who have severe anxiety, nasal congestion, or discomfort wearing a nasal mask. Your pediatric dentist will review your child’s medical history, level of anxiety, and dental treatment needs and inform you if nitrous oxide/ oxygen is recommended for your child. Pediatric dentists have comprehensive specialty training and can offer other sedation methods that are right for your child.
General anesthesia is a method of sedation that involves putting the patient into a state of unconsciousness or sleep. This sort of sedation is only administered by highly trained and specialized physicians/dentists.
General anesthesia is a controlled state of unconsciousness that eliminates awareness, movement and discomfort during dental treatment. A physician or dentist with specialized training can use various medications to provide general anesthesia for patients receiving dental care.
General anesthesia may be indicated for children with extensive dental needs who are extremely uncooperative, fearful or anxious or for the very young who do not understand how to cope in a cooperative fashion. General anesthesia also can be helpful for children requiring significant surgical procedures or patients having special health care needs.
Although there is some risk associated with general anesthesia, it can be used safely and effectively when administered by an appropriately-trained individual in an appropriately-equipped facility. Precautions are taken to protect your child during general anesthesia; personnel who are trained to manage complications will monitor your child closely. Your pediatric dentist will discuss the benefits and risks of general anesthesia and why it is recommended for your child.
A physical evaluation is required prior to general anesthesia for dental care. This physical assessment provides information to ensure the safety of your child during the general anesthesia procedure. Your pediatric dentist or general anesthesia provider will advise you about evaluation appointments that are required.
Parents are instructed to report to the pediatric dentist any illness that occurs prior to the general anesthesia appointment. It may be necessary to reschedule the appointment. It is very important to follow instructions regarding fasting from fluids and foods prior to the appointment.
Your child will be discharged when stable, alert, and ready to depart. Patients often are tired following general anesthesia. You will be instructed to let the child rest at home with minimal activity until the next day. Post-operative dietary recommendations also will be given.