sedation dentistry

Calming Dental Fears with Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is the process of using medication to help patients relax during dental work. This calming option can be embraced by children or adults. To help you decide if sedation dentistry is right for your children, here’s a closer look at what it means and the different options available. Your dentist can answer any additional questions that you may have during your child’s first appointment.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide has been used in dentistry for generations, and because it’s been popular for so long, many people don’t even realize that it is a form of sedation dentistry. Also called laughing gas, nitrous oxide is administered through a mask placed over the patient’s nose. As they inhale the gas, they instantly begin to feel more relaxed.

This is a helpful way for children to get through a range of dental procedures. When you go to a children’s dentist, your child may even be able to choose a flavor for their nitrous oxide. The gas can be scented with flavors ranging from bubblegum to strawberry. With nitrous oxide, there are no lingering effects, and as long as your child’s mouth feels okay, your child can easily return to school or resume their regular activities for the rest of the day.

Oral Sedation Dentistry

Oral sedation is when a patient takes a medication orally to help relax during a dental appointment. Usually, the medications prescribed for oral dentistry are anti-anxiety medications. Your dentist can let you know which option is safest for your child.

Typically, if you take this route, you fill a prescription a few days before the appointment. Then, you have your child take the pill about an hour or so before the appointment. That allows the medication to get around your child’s system so that he or she is relaxed by the time the dentist starts the work.

Some dentists are not willing to use both nitrous oxide and oral sedation together, but others make the decision on a case by case basis. Talk to your dentist about what is right for your child.


Intravenous Sedation

This is the most serious form of dental sedation. Dentists need special training to administer this option. With this type of sedation, the patient is basically asleep through the dental work.

The dentist rubs a topical analgesic on the patient’s arm and inserts a needle. Then, the medication runs into the patient’s blood stream. Most patients go under in just a few moments after the IV is inserted. This option is best for procedures such as removing wisdom teeth, extracting molars, or doing extensive work on a small child.

However, patients with severe anxiety or dental phobias may choose this type of sedation for general dentistry work. That includes children who have had bad experiences with another dentist in the past.

With this type of dental sedation, your child may need to fast before the procedure. They also tend to feel groggy for a while after the procedure, and they may not be able to return to school after their appointment. Teens cannot drive home after using this type of sedation.


If your child or teen needs extra help relaxing during a procedure, you may want to consider dental sedation. At Dentistry for Children and Teens, we offer that option. Contact us to set up an appointment today.