As pediatric dentists, we want our children to have positive experiences; we want to coach children in having more confidence that they can sit in our dental chair while we treat their teeth. We have many techniques to help kids understand what’s going on and why we are doing the things that we do. There is a certain percentage of our kids who haven’t yet developed the ability to cooperate in the dental chair for treatment.
When Dental Sedation is Required
When this can’t be achieved due to anxiety, fear, special health care needs, large amounts of treatment or even defiance then we have to consider other options to help them get through the appointment. These include Conscious Sedation- (Laughing Gas), Moderate to Deep Sedation (Oral or Intravenous sedatives), or General Anesthesia. Pediatric dentists call these techniques “Pharmacological Behavior Modification”
So what’s the difference?
Conscious sedation (laughing gas), which is delivered through a nose piece, lowers the child’s anxiety and fear. It also reduces the pain perception from the injection. For this reason we recommend this on almost every child we treat unless there are underlying medical issues. The child can breathe normally, is fully awake, and can follow instructions. In most cases, this is all children need to get through an appointment and to help build their confidence in the chair.
Moderate & Dental Deep Sedation
When the child is too anxious, has specific special health care needs, or is defiant, deep sedation or general anesthesia must be considered to treat the child safely and to avoid creating a life-long fearful dental patient.
During Moderate and Deep sedation the child can often breathe on their own, but will not remember the treatment and may or may not follow instruction. As the sedation gets deeper the chance for the child to stop breathing on their own increases. The point where that can happen is unclear and different for every individual. For this reason, Jr. Smiles® does not offer Moderate or Deep Sedation.
Jr. Smiles® does however provide General Anesthesia, which can be compared to going to sleep. With General Anesthesia, the child does not breath on their own, will not remember anything leading up to treatment and right after treatment, and will not be able to follow instruction. This behavior modification is more controlled. The children are put fully to sleep and a breathing tube/ respirator is placed so that we ensure the child is breathing the entire time. This is called “Protecting the Airway”. Moderate and Deep Sedation do not protect the airway. For all of our General Anesthesia cases we bring in a pediatric anesthesiologist (a doctor who only focuses on putting children to sleep and waking them up safely) while your dentist performs the treatment needed on your child.
Dental Sedation Goals
The whole goal of these behavior management techniques is to provide the necessary treatment in a way that protects your child’s psyche and doesn’t scar them into having life-long dental phobia.
At Jr. Smiles® we offer Conscious Sedation with laughing gas or General Anesthesia. If your child needs help getting through dental procedures or if you have further questions please contact us at email@example.com or call for a consultation appointment at 303-455-3313.