Sedation Dentistry Options for Kids With Special Needs

We put your special needs child at ease with sedation dentistry

Create a better experience with sedation dentistry.

Visiting a dental office can feel like a visit to another world! The bright lights, the strange sounds and smells, and having strangers very close can make even the most outgoing child feel a bit uncomfortable. For kids with special needs, this sensory overload can trigger anxiety or fear, especially for treatment appointments. Thankfully we have an answer for that in the form of sedation dentistry.

Sedation dentistry gives kids with special needs the ability to relax or go completely to sleep during their appointments. By offering a variety of sedation options, pediatric dentists can tailor the level of relaxation based on what each child needs.

If you’re a parent of a child who feels nervous or afraid of the dentist, here’s a rundown on why sedation dentistry is a beneficial service for youngsters with special needs.

Three Types of Sedation Dentistry & Their Purposes

Sedation dentistry for kids with special needs is available in three different levels, from a mild effect to complete sedation. By having more than one option available, parents and their child’s pediatric dentist can select a level that’s only as strong as necessary to help the child feel relaxed and comfortable.

Mild Sedation: Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is mild sedation that’s inhaled through the nose through a special mask. Nitrous oxide is very low-risk and safe. It’s actually one of the most commonly used dentistry sedatives for kids as well as adults.

Nitrous oxide has a very subtle sweet smell and gives kids a feeling of happiness and relaxation. Sometimes it can also make them feel a bit sleepy. One of the major advantages of nitrous oxide is that it doesn’t have lasting effects. Once the appointment is over, the nitrous oxide will be turned off and pure oxygen will given for a little while before the mask is removed.

Moderate Sedation: Oral Sedation

Oral sedation uses a special medication given under prescription by your child’s pediatric dentist. Oral sedation is also known as conscious sedation as your child will be awake, though they will be quite sleepy. Compared to nitrous oxide, oral sedation is stronger and does have a lasting effect. Most kids will still feel drowsy after their appointment and will often want to nap when they get home.

Oral sedation also requires a bit of preparation for parents. Your child’s pediatric dentist will give you detailed instructions, but most oral sedatives will require that your child not eat or drink after midnight the day before the appointment.

Full Sedation: IV Sedation

Intravenous or IV sedation is the same as general anesthesia. Unlike the former two sedatives, IV sedation is categorized as hospital dentistry, and an anesthesiologist will be present to monitor your child for the entire procedure. The anesthesiologist will be able to completely focus on your child, while the pediatric dentist focuses on the dental procedure. This approach ensures maximum safety for your child.

IV sedation will also require at-home preparation before the appointment. Similar to oral sedation, your child’s pediatric dentist will inform you when food and water should be withheld and any other pertinent information. Your child will also need more time to recover afterward compared to mild or moderate sedation.

Choose the right type of sedation dentistry for your child.

The type of sedation given to your child is a decision between you and your child’s pediatric dentist, and it’s important that both parties are comfortable with the choice made.

Your child’s dentist will discuss which options are available and explain why they recommend a specific sedation option for your child. This will all take place in a consultation appointment prior to treatment so there is zero pressure and parents can discuss any concerns they may have.

The dentist will also carefully evaluate your child’s medical history, paying especially close attention to any health conditions or medications that may affect sedation. Safety is always the priority when it comes to sedation, and your child’s dentist will only recommend the option that is low-risk based on your child’s health.

Nitrous oxide will often be recommended for routine checkups, cleanings, and simple procedures if your child doesn’t show fear but generally needs a helping hand to relax. Oral sedation is the next step and is usually recommended when a child has a difficult time relaxing, cooperating, or sitting still for longer appointments. When it isn’t safe for a child to be awake during their treatment appointment, IV sedation will then be considered.

Schedule your child’s sedation dentistry consultation at Pediatric Dental Specialists.

If you think sedation dentistry can help your child with special needs have a better time at the dentist, the best way to learn more is with a visit to Pediatric Dental Specialists. By coming in for a simple visit, your child can see our office, meet our team, and get to know their pediatric dentist. You and the dentist will have a chance to discuss your child’s needs and talk about sedation as an option.

To schedule an appointment, call your preferred location’s office or use this online form.