There are a lot of misconceptions -even amongst some dentists- what sedation does and how and when it is indicated.
What is sedation?
Sedation is a technique to guide a child's behavior during treatment.
A sedation is not the same as general anesthesia. Children, that are sedated are not asleep or unconscious for their treatment. They are still aware of what is going on, but are drowsy, relaxed and possibly sleepy. The goal is to lessen anxiety and improve cooperation with treatment.
Who should be sedated?
Children with moderate levels of fear and anxiety and/or require extensive treatment may be good candidates for sedation procedures. Very young children under age 2 or children with extreme fear and very extensive treatment needs may actually be candidates for general anesthesia, rather than sedation. I will evaluate every child prior to discussing options with their parents and will make recommendations for the best treatment option for your child.
Why would you use sedation?
I recommend sedation for the safety and comfort of your child during dental procedures. It will allow your child to better cope with treatment and protect them from uncontrolled and undesirable movements. Sedation provides a better environment for providing dental care and helps to prevent and avoid traumatic experiences.
What medications are used?
I will typically recommend a mixture of drugs, a narcotic drug (Demerol), an antihistamine (Promethazine), and possibly a Benzodiazepine (Diazepam, or Meperiodine). I will select drugs based upon your child's level of anxiety, treatment needs, and overall health.
Is sedation safe?
I follow American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Sedation Guidelines. I am licensed to perform mild and moderate sedations and have been performed thousands of pediatric sedations since 1993. I will carefully monitor children prior, during, and after treatment. We have pre- and post-operative instructions, that I urge every patient to follow closely. We continuously monitor blood pressure, pulse, and blood oxygen levels during treatment.
What do I need to do before treatment?
Let us know if your child is sick prior to your appointment. Coughing, respiratory infections, wheezing can severely increase the risk of sedation and we recommend to reschedule the appointment.
I require my patients to have an empty stomach prior to sedation. Your child should have nothing to eat or drink for at least 6 hours prior to receiving sedative drugs. This will ensure better drug absorption and prevent possible severe complications of treatment. If your child needs to take prescription medication I recommend to take that medicine with a small sip of water and of course let us know before what medication your child takes.
What should I expect after treatment?
You will need to watch your child for the rest of the day. I recommend to avoid any activities that require coordination or concentration. I will evaluate every child to see when and if they are ready to be discharged back to your care. We provide you with written and oral instructions.
Sedation is a safe option to make treatment easier for children. Please ask all and any questions you may have if I recommend a sedation for your child.
Dietmar Kennel DDS
Lubbock KIDS Dental