Dental Sleep Techniques For Kids

Regular dental visits are very important for your child’s dental health. First and foremost, regular check ups help your child build good oral care habits. Second, regular teeth cleaning and inspection help in preventing cavities and in early detection of dental issues. Last but not least, dental visits provide you guidance on what you can do to ensure best dental protection for your kids.

Dental Sleep Techniques For Kids

However, taking a kid to a dentist’s office can be a real challenge, because all children dread the thought of sitting in that big leather chair and being surrounded with all that unfamiliar tools that make terrifying noises. From child’s perspective, there’s nothing more daunting and uncomfortable. If you are facing the problem of convincing you child to step into dentist’s office, the least you can do is help him/her overcome the fear of dentists. Here are some tips and advice that can help you ease your child’s fear and prepare him/her mentally for the visit.

However, in some cases, special dental sleep techniques are performed with the purpose to relax a child and make him/her sleepy during the dental procedure. Depending on the type of dental procedure that is performed and the degree of pain it causes, dentists use different sleep dental techniques. Of course, it is dentist’s job to decide which sedation technique to use. But by learning the basics of these techniques you will know what to expect before, during and after your child is treated with such technique. Here’s a short overview of the most common sedation techniques for kids.

Conscious Sedation

Conscious sedation is a general term that refers to any form of medicine that is used for relaxing children and making them feel sleepy before the dental procedure. As the general name implies, the conscious sedation technique relaxes the child while leaving him/her conscious during the treatment. This sleep dental technique is used in prolonged dental procedures or for children with special needs.

Conscious sedation techniques are given in different forms, including: injection, pill,syrup, through gas inhalation or as a medicine that is received intravenously (through the vein).

Types of Sleep Dental Techniques

Nitrous Oxide, or a laughing gas, typically given in combination with oxygen, is delivered through a nose mask. It is given to kids with mild to moderate anxiety. As the gas starts working, your child will calm down slowly and will become less anxious, but still awake enough to communicate with the dentist. When the gas is turned off, its effects will wear off in a short time. The dentist will replace the nitrous oxide in the mask with pure oxygen in order to flush the remaining of the gas from your kid’s body. The only side effect of this gas is the possible nauseous feeling. To avoid nausea, your child should have a light meal and liquids few hours before the dental visit.

Oral Sedation medicines are given to children who experience high dental anxiety. This type of sedation medications are received orally and are stronger than the nitrous oxide gas. The dentist will decide which medicine to give to your child, depending on the factors such as: type of dental treatment, anxiety level and kid’s ability to communicate and cooperate with him/her. These medications leave your child sleepy but still awake and conscious to be able to respond to dentist’s commands.

The dentist will give you instructions about: what your kid should eat before the treatment; what you should expect after he/she receives the medicine; and what to pay attention to after the treatment. After the treatment, you may be asked to stay in the dental office for your child to be observed by the dental team, until he/she feels good to go home.

General Anesthesia

This sleep dental technique puts a child into a completely unconscious state. Under the effect of the anesthesia, the child doesn’t feel pain and is unable to move. This eases the work of the dentist in situations when:

  • Dental surgery is being performed;
  • Conscious sedation can’t provide the desired relaxing effects;
  • More dental work has to be done at once;
  • The kid has disabilities that make it difficult for him/her to understand directions from the dentists and is unable to stay calm during the procedure.