Sedation Options

Local anesthesia

Many procedures can be performed with the use of local anesthesia, commonly referred to as Novocaine even though Lidocaine, Mepivicain, and Articaine are more often used. All of these drugs numb the area where the work will be performed, and all wear off within a few hours. After placing topical anesthetic to desensitize the injection site, a syringe of the local anesthesia is administered.

Care of the Mouth After Local Anesthetic

If the procedure was done in the lower jaw, the tongue, teeth, lip, and surrounding tissue will be numb or asleep. If it was done in the upper jaw, the lip and surrounding tissue will be numb or asleep.

Children often don’t understand the effects of local anesthesia and might chew, scratch, suck, or play with the numb lip, tongue or cheek. These reactions can cause minor irritation or they can be severe enough to cause swelling and abrasions to the tissue.

Monitor your child closely for about two hours following the appointment, and keep your child on a liquid or soft diet until the anesthetic has worn off. Please do not hesitate to call our office with any questions.

Nitrous Oxide

Some children are given nitrous oxide/oxygen, or what is commonly called “laughing gas” to relax them for the treatment. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. The blend is given through a small breathing mask placed over the child’s nose. The gas allows them to relax, but without putting them to sleep. While inhaling nitrous oxide/oxygen, your child remains fully conscious and keeps all natural reflexes.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes this technique as safe and effective for treating children’s dental needs. The gas is mild, non-addictive, easily taken, and with normal breathing, quickly eliminated from the body.

Prior to Your Appointment

  • Please inform of us of any change to your child’s health or medical condition.
  • Tell us of any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child, as it could limit the effectiveness of nitrous oxide/oxygen.
  • Let us know if your child is taking any medication on the day of the appointment.

Conscious Sedation/Non-Intravenous Sedation

Conscious sedation is recommended for apprehensive children, very young children, and children with special needs to calm your child and reduce the anxiety or discomfort associated with dental treatments. A medication called Versed is administered orally according to the child’s weight. The medicine is also a muscle relaxant and produces a retrograde amnesia so the child remembers little or nothing about the actual procedure even though they will remain responsive throughout.

Prior to Your Appointment

  • Please inform of us of any change to your child’s health or medical condition. Contact us to consider postponing the appointment if your child has a fever, ear infection, or cold.
  • You must tell the doctor of any drugs your child is currently taking, and any drug reactions and/or changes in medical history.
  • Dress your child in loose fitting, comfortable clothing.
  • Make sure your child goes to the bathroom immediately prior to arriving at the office.
  • Important — Your child should not have milk or solid food after midnight prior to the scheduled procedure and clear liquids ONLY (water, apple juice, Gatorade) for up to six hours prior to the appointment.
  • The child’s parent or legal guardian must remain at the office during the complete procedure.
  • Please watch your child closely while the medication is taking effect. Hold them in your lap or keep them close to you. Do not let them “run around.”
  • Your child will act drowsy and may become slightly excited at first.

After Your Appointment

  • Your child will be drowsy and will need to be monitored very closely. Keep your child away from areas of potential harm.
  • If your child wants to sleep, place them on their side with their chin up. Wake your child every hour and encourage them to have something to drink to prevent dehydration. At first it’s best to give your child sips of clear liquid to prevent nausea. The first meal should be light and easily digestible.
  • If your child vomits, help them bend over and turn their head to the side to ensure they don’t inhale the vomit.
  • Because we use local anesthetic to numb the area during the procedure, your child might have a tendency to bite or chew the lips, cheeks, or tongue, or to rub and scratch the face after treatment. Please observe your child carefully to prevent any injury.
  • Please call our office with any questions or concerns you might have.

IV Sedation

We also offer IV sedation in cases where the work is extensive or the child does not do well with conscious sedation. Dr. Dennis Stone, pediatric anesthesiologist, administers the medication. Please visit Dr. Stone’s web site for more information about him and this type of anesthesia.