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About the Use of Oral Sedation for Dental Exams and Treatments

Oral sedation (sometimes called a “conscious sedation”) uses medications to assist the child to cope with fear and anxiety and cooperate with dental treatment. Medications and dosages will be selected that are unlikely to cause loss of consciousness in your child. Most medication used for an oral sedation cause a loss of memory and a groggy (tired) sensation.

Children who have a level of anxiety that prevents good coping skills or are very young and do not understand how to cope in a cooperative fashion for the delivery of dental care would likely be a good candidate for an oral sedation. Oral sedation is often helpful for some children who have special needs. It allows a child to cope better with dental treatment. In order to alleviate potential anxiety in your child, we recommend minimal discussion of the dental appointment with your child prior to the appointment.

Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry has a special room designed for oral sedation where the parent and the child will be allowed to rest comfortably and watch a movie or television during the sedation appointment. This room is separated from the rest of the office. At all times during the appointment, your child’s vital signs will be monitored with a pulse oximeter and a team member will be closely caring for and observe your child. The sedation room at Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry is equipped with all the necessary equipment and medications to deal with any urgent situation that may arise during the sedation appointment. In addition, Dr. Healy and Dr. Martin have received and continue to receive an immense amount of training specifically related to pediatric oral sedation.

Oral sedation has a great track record of safety and effectiveness. However, oral sedation is not always the best option for treatment, especially in children with very extreme anxiety or poor behavior, certain medical conditions, and very extensive dental treatment needs. The team at Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry will discuss if oral sedation if right for your child.

Pre-Operative Oral Sedation Instructions

  • Your child should not eat or drink anything (including water) 6 to 8 hours before the start of his/her appointment. Failure to comply with these instructions will result in cancellation of the sedation appointment.
  • Should your child become ill within two weeks prior to a sedation appointment, contact our office to see if it is necessary to postpone the sedation.
  • Dress your child in loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. This will allow us to place monitors that evaluate your child’s response to the medications and help ensure your child’s safety. These monitors may measure effects on your child’s breathing and heart rate.
  • Try not to bring other children to this appointment so you can focus your attention on your child undergoing the sedation.
  • If you will be traveling home by automobile or if you must bring any other children with you to this appointment, it is preferable to have 2 adults accompany the patient home. On the way home, one individual should be able to observe the child’s breathing without any distractions, especially if the patient falls asleep while in the car or safety seat.

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Post-Operative Oral Sedation Instructions

  • Once home, your child will still be drowsy and must remain under adult supervision until fully recovered from the effects of the sedation. If your child wants to sleep, position your child on his/her side with the head supported and the chin up. During this period, check your child’s breathing and airway every 3-5 minutes. If your child is snoring, reposition the head until the snoring disappears and your child breathes normally. If breathing becomes abnormal or you are unable to arouse your child, contact emergency services (911) immediately.
  • Nausea and vomiting are occasional side effects of sedation. If vomiting occurs, immediately clear the material from your child’s mouth. Once again, be sure that breathing is normal. If breathing becomes abnormal or you are unable to arouse your child, contact emergency services (911) immediately. If vomiting persists for 20-40 minutes, contact our office immediately.
  • Your child may be drowsy for some time after the sedation appointment. Restrict activities for the remainder of the day. Prohibit potentially harmful activities such as bike riding, swimming, using playground equipment, or any activity where balance is important.
  • In addition to the sedative medications, we often use local anesthetic to numb the mouth during dental treatment. The numbness usually lasts 2-4 hours. Watch to see that your child does not bite, scratch, or injure the cheek, lips, or tongue during this time.
  • Children may be irritable after treatment. If this occurs, stay with your child and provide a calm environment. If you believe the irritability is caused by discomfort, you may give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®). Follow the instructions on the bottle for dosing based upon your child’s age/weight.
  • Once your child is alert, you may give him/her sips of clear liquids to prevent nausea and dehydration. Small drinks taken repeatedly are preferable to large amounts. The first meal should be something light and easily digestible (eg, soup, Jell-O®, applesauce). Do not give fatty or spicy foods (e.g., French fries, tacos, salsa, milk, cheese, yogurt).
  • A slight fever (temperature to 100.5°F) is not uncommon after sedation. You may give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®). Follow the instructions on the bottle for dosing based upon your child’s age/weight. Because dehydration may cause a slight increase in temperature, clear fluids may help correct this condition. If a higher fever develops or the fever persists, call our office.
  • Please feel free to call the office at (316) 202-0140 for any questions or concerns that you might have.

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“The staff was kind and interactive. They made us feel comfortable even when my son was a little for active and loud of most places. Dr. Healy was also kind and understanding.”

— Cassie M.