Sleep Dentistry is one of many techniques pediatric dentists can use to calm children for a procedure. Before applying sleep dentistry most pediatric dentists will have first considered other calming techniques such as laughing gas.
Using a general anesthesia, sleep dentistry puts your child in a deep sleep under the supervision of a Pediatric Anesthesiologist, a medical doctor specializing in putting children to sleep safely. Once safely asleep, your pediatric dentist performs the required dental procedures, while the anesthesiologist monitors your child’s sleeping.
When is Sleep Dentistry Appropriate?
Most often, sleep dentistry is recommended when your child is anxious because of their age or previous experiences. When anxiety creates physical resistance to treatment it can be dangerous to proceed with dental procedures or it may compromise life of the restorations.
Another reason we recommend sleep dentistry involves the extent of treatment. If your child has enough cavities, necessitating that your pediatric dentist needs to make 3 and 4 different visits, they may suggest sleep dentistry for your child. The reason for this is that young children tend to cooperate less and less at visit #3 and visit #4 because they can anticipate what will happen.
When is Sleep Dentistry Not Appropriate?
The goal is always to create confidence in your child so we will always try other calming techniques before resorting to sleep dentistry.
At our pediatric dental practice, before applying this technique we will know a lot about your child’s behavior: Our team monitors and records their behavior during the cleaning and xrays so our doctors have a sense of how the child may do with treatment. If the cooperation is good, the doctor will try treatment awake, typically with laughing gas to show the child that they can do well at the dentist and to build confidence for future dental care in their life.
At our practice sleep dentistry is only recommended when the doctor feels that a trying experience will negatively impact your child and their future performance at the dentist.
How is Sleep Dentistry Applied
At our practice sleep dentistry is only done with a pediatric anesthesiologist in the treatment room. They are a second doctor, with the pediatric dentist is.
Who is Putting My Child to Sleep?
The pediatric anesthesiologist will put your child to sleep and monitor their sleep throughout the dental procedure.
Before your child’s procedure, your child will be assessed by the anesthesia team prior to the appointment to determine the safety of the procedure. If your child has certain medical issues, the anesthesia team may advise you to have treatment at a hospital where there can be medical support appropriate to your child’s needs.
No Food and drink before procedure
The anesthesia team will instruct you not to let your child eat or drink anything (including water) after midnight the night before your treatment. For safety reasons, your child needs to have a completely empty stomach for general anesthesia.
Day of the procedure
The day of the procedure your child will be evaluated before going to sleep. If all of our safety protocols are met, you and your child will be brought back to the anesthesia room where the anesthesiologist will begin putting your child to sleep. You will be allowed to be in the room until your child falls asleep. Once they are asleep, our team will escort you to the waiting room so the doctors can prepare for treatment.
The procedure and what to expect
Depending on the amount of treatment, your child will be asleep from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The dentist, their assistants, and the anesthesiologist will all be in the room making sure your child has a safe and successful procedure. Once treatment is done, your pediatric dentist will call you into the waiting room to give you post operative instructions. Shortly after, the anesthesiologist will come to the waiting room to bring you back to your child, who will be sleeping in our recovery room.
After the procedure
Expect that your child will be drowsy for the rest of the day and will need parental supervision. We recommend starting off with fluids like apple juice or applesauce once you are home. By the evening, typically children can tolerate soft foods like mashed potatoes or. mac and cheese.
Our team will ask that you return for a brief follow-up appointment two weeks after the procedure to assess their recovery.
If you have any questions on whether sleep dentistry is right for your child, please contact Junior Smiles Children’s Dentistry® for a consultation appointment at 303-455-3313