Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety in children. Administered through a small mask that fits over your child’s nose, it is an effective way to calm anxiety. Your child will be asked to breathe through his or her nose and not through their mouth. As the gas begins to work, your child will become calm, although he or she will still be awake and able to talk with the dentist.
At the end of your child’s appointment, he or she will resume breathing regular oxygen, and all the effects of nitrous oxide will disappear. As your child gets older and becomes more comfortable during dental visits, nitrous oxide may not be necessary.
Oral Conscious Sedation
Oral Conscious Sedation (sometimes called a “Moderate Sedation”) is a management technique that uses medications to assist the child to cope with fear and anxiety and cooperate with dental treatment. Medications and dosages will be selected that are unlikely to cause loss of consciousness in your child. Most medication used for an Oral Conscious Sedation cause an amnesiac (loss of memory) effect such that some children do not recall undergoing treatment.
Children who have a level of anxiety that prevents good coping skills or are very young and do not understand how to cope in a cooperative fashion for the delivery of dental care would likely be a good candidate for an Oral Conscious Sedation. Oral Conscious Sedation is often helpful for some children who have special needs. It allows a child to cope better with dental treatment. This can help prevent injury to the child from his/her movement during treatment and promote a better environment for providing dental care.
Many different medications can be used for conscious sedation. Dr. McEachern will discuss different options for your child at the time of his appointment. Sedation is a safe option. Dr. McEachern is licensed by the State of North Carolina as a specialist in pediatric dentistry. She also follows the sedation guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
IV Sedation is recommended for apprehensive children, very young children, and children with special needs that would not work well under oral conscious sedation. Dr. McEachern performs the dental treatment in our office with the child anesthetized under IV sedation, which is administered and monitored by a Dental Anesthesiologist, Dr. Charles Cangemi.
General anesthesia will put your child into a deep sleep. He or she will be unable to feel pain or move around. General anesthesia for dental procedures can be provided by an anesthesiologist or dental anesthesiologist. These professionals are trained to deliver medication, monitor your child during the procedure, and handle any complications that may occur.
To prepare your child for general anesthesia, follow the guidelines given to you by the doctor regarding food and fluid intake before and after the procedure. Discuss the procedure with your child using simple terms that he or she can understand. Let your child rest quietly at home after the procedure. He or she will probably be ready to resume their normal schedule the next day.
The child's parent or legal guardian must remain at the office during the entire procedure. Because of the important nature of the treatment, we strongly recommend that a second adult be available to drive the child home so that the parent is able to sit with the child.
Pediatric Hospital Dentistry
If your child cannot receive dental care in a traditional dental office, our practice offers gentle and effective dental care to infants, children, and adolescents in the nurturing environment of our local hospital. As one of the only pediatric dentists in the area to offer this unique service, our pediatric dentist has the distinctive ability to understand the specific needs of children who need dental care but cannot cooperate for safe dental treatment. Through hospital dentistry, you can eliminate the struggles and trauma that can lead to a lifetime fear of dental treatment for your child.
Is hospital dentistry right for my child?
Pediatric hospital dentistry services are ideal for:
- Physically, emotionally, or developmentally challenged children who are unable to hold still for dental treatment
- Children that have a severe gag reflex
- Children with complex medical conditions that make it unsafe to receive dental care in an office situation
- Children who have allergies to local anesthetics or experience difficulty achieving numbness
- Children who need oral surgery or other dental treatment that would be difficult for the child to tolerate while awake
For these situations, the use of general anesthesia may be the best option for your family.