Sedation Dentistry for Kids: Take the Fear Out of the Dentist

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Being afraid of the dentist is an overwhelmingly common fear — as many as 15% of Americans avoid seeing the dentist due to anxiety or fear. Of course, what people should really be afraid of is what happens if you go too long without visiting the dentist: cavities, tooth decay, or even root canals. Establishing a good relationship between your child and the dentist is an important step towards a lifetime of healthy teeth. There are several steps you can take to help prevent dental anxiety in your child, and that includes sedation dentistry for kids. If your child is gearing up for a dentist appointment, here’s what you should know about dental anxiety and sedation dentistry.

Start Dental Visits Early

A great tactic for minimizing your child’s fear of the dentist is to start their dental visits early in life. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children visit a dentist by age 1 or 6 months after their first tooth erupts, whichever comes first. If you start taking your child to the dentist when they’re still this young, it’s likely that they will be too young to feel nervous.

If you wait until your child is a little bit older, they may understand enough to have some fear or anxiety about the dentist. Making the dentist a regular part of their routine when they’re still infants can prevent this anxiety, since they’re less likely to be scared if they’ve been there before.

For Older Children, Explain Procedures

Trying to explaining dental procedures to an infant is a fruitless task, but once your child is a little bit older, you can talk to them about what will happen at the dentist. Often, the dentist can seem scary because children don’t know what’s going on. If they understand what kinds of tools the dentist is using or what’s happening in their mouth, it all seems much less frightening.

However, when you explain dental procedures to children, it’s best to keep it in simple, neutral terms. Avoid using words like “surgery” or “pain” that have negative connotations. If you’re not confident in your ability to explain things to your child, you can always have their dentist talk them through it.

Consider Sedation Dentistry

Empty Sedation Dental Chair

Most people who experience dental anxiety say that it stemmed from a painful or traumatic experience at the dentist. With sedation dentistry for kids, your child won’t be exposed to any situations like that. In the simplest terms, sedation dentistry is any dental procedure that uses a form of sedation to help the patient relax. Sedation dentistry is ideal for children who have dental anxiety, very young patients, or children who have trouble sitting still for a whole procedure.

Some children will have dental anxiety even if they haven’t had a negative experience at the dentist, and that’s normal. Unfortunately, there are a lot of negative connotation associated with the dentist. If talking to your child doesn’t help alleviate their fear, sedation dentistry for kids may be able to help. Sedation dentistry is suitable for children with all levels of anxiety. Since the sedation will keep them relaxed during the procedure, your child will eventually come to recognize that the dentist is a safe place after all.

To determine whether it’s right for your child, you need to know how sedation dentistry works.  There are multiple levels of sedation, and your child’s dentist will choose the best, safest option based on the type of the procedure and their medical history. There are four type of sedation: nitrous oxide, oral sedation, IV sedation, and general anesthesia. Nitrous oxide is the most commonly-used form; it’s administered through inhalation and will leave your child totally relaxed.

If your child needs a higher level of sedation, oral sedation or IV sedation can render them unconscious during the procedure. Your child won’t feel any pain, and they’ll wake up with no memory of the procedure.

General anesthesia is only used in particularly severe cases or for complicated procedures. If your child requires general anesthesia, our dentists work with the next door Sun Valley Surgery Center at 4090 North Martin Luther King Blvd. We work extensively with their anesthesiologists and staff on a weekly basis to ensure that your child gets top quality care.

Is Sedation Dentistry for Kids Safe?

Naturally, any parent wants to be assured of their child’s safety before undergoing any sort of medical procedure, and sedation dentistry is no exception. Happily, sedation dentistry is safe for most children. To ensure your child’s safety, our team takes every precaution. They also take a comprehensive medical history of your child to make sure that they don’t have a condition or medication that would interfere with sedation.

Sedation Dentistry for Children with Special Needs

Children with special needs may find dentist appointments particularly difficult. Luckily, sedation dentistry for kids extends to all children, including those with special needs. Sedation dentistry can take all of the complication out of your child’s dentist appointments, as our compassionate, experienced.

Dr. Steven DeLisle has extensive experience with sedation dentistry for kids with special needs, including children with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and developmental disorders. Sedation dentistry can help your child with special needs whether they’re afraid of the dentist or simply have trouble staying still for extended periods of time. Our dentists will work with you to find the best solution.

Contact Us Today

Now that you know how sedation dentistry works, consider it as an option for your child’s next dental appointment. It’s a safe way to prevent your child from developing any fear about the dentist. If you’re interested in making an appointment at one of our locations in the Las Vegas area, contact us at Children’s Dentistry today.

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