Sedation Dentistry for Kids

sedation dentistry for kids

We want to make sure that your child always has a positive experience at our office. Sometimes this means using sedation to keep them calm and comfortable during their dental treatment. Our practice follows American Dental Association guidelines for the use of sedation dentistry; the sedation options we use in our office are safe and effective. When general anesthesia is required, procedures are performed at Maine General Medical Center with an anesthesiologist in the room.

Our practice offers the following types of sedation:

Nitrous Oxide

You might know it as laughing gas, but we know it as the preferred sedative for pediatric patients. Nitrous oxide is inhaled through a mask, making it a good fit for even our youngest patients. It begins to take effect within minutes, but it also wears off quickly once the mask is removed. Children are fully conscious with nitrous oxide, but they feel calm and relaxed. Side effects are minor: children may be light-headed or have tingling or heavy sensations in their arms and legs.   Sometimes children get an upset stomach when using nitrous oxide, which is why we ask that they not eat right before treatment.

Local Anesthesia

Whenever a procedure has the potential to cause pain, we first use a topical or injected anesthetic to numb the area where we’re working to ensure that your child is comfortable during their appointment. Whether topical or injected, these anesthetics are safe and effective. Local anesthesia can be used in conjunction with nitrous oxide.  Though we avoid using local anesthetics when we use a laser to fix cavities.

General Anesthesia/Hospital Dentistry

General anesthesia may be recommended for patients with special needs or when very extensive dental work is required. We only perform procedures under general anesthesia at the Maine General Medical Center in Augusta with an anesthesiologist in the room.

Click here to learn more about Hospital Dentistry.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sedation Dentistry for Kids

Is dental nitrous oxide safe?

Nitrous oxide is extremely safe. Because it wears off so quickly, there are no potential long-term side effects. Some patients are sensitive to nitrous oxide and may have short-term side effects like sweating, shivering, nausea, and dizziness. Occasionally, patients may hallucinate while inhaling nitrous oxide.

Does nitrous oxide help with pain?

Yes, the primary purpose of nitrous oxide is to sedate patients, so it produces a calm, relaxed state.  Nitrous oxide causes a slight analgesic effect, so the threshold for discomfort is raised.

Can kids go back to school after laughing gas?

Your child can go back to school after having laughing gas, as it wears off quickly after the mask is removed.

Is it safe to put a child to sleep for dental work?

It is safe to put a child to sleep for dental work when done under the care of an anesthesiologist. For this reason, we only perform procedures under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. 

Should I sedate my child for dental work?

Because nitrous oxide is so safe, with few side effects, we do recommend it for young patients, nervous patients, or any child that needs extensive dental work. You know your child and how they are likely to react at our office, so we value your opinion. If you’d like to talk to us prior to your child’s appointment, feel free to give us a call and we can discuss whether sedation is a good option.