Sedation dentistry refers to the use of sedation during dental treatment. Sedation is most commonly used during extensive procedures, for patients with dental phobia or for patients who find it difficult to sit still. There are different types of sedation, including nitrous oxide ("laughing gas"), oral sedatives, injected sedation, IV sedation and general anesthetic.
Sedation can range from the use of nitrous oxide to calm a patient to general anesthetics used to put patients to sleep. Patients with dental phobia, low pain tolerance, major dental treatment, short attention span or strong gag reflexes may require sedation. Procedures like fillings, crowns, root canals, and extractions often require sedation.
In our office, most procedures can be completed with minimal use of nitrous oxide. Patients requiring additional relaxation can usually be sedated at the office or scheduled for treatment at an outpatient surgical center. After examining your child's teeth, Dr. Christensen will recommend the best options for completing any treatment in the safest, most effective way that will allow us to help your child have a positive experience with dental care.
Sedation is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and is an effective way to make many children comfortable during their dental visit. Before using a sedative or anesthetic, it is important to tell Dr. Christensen about any health issues your child has had, and any medications or medical treatments your child is receiving. Before administering any sedative or anesthetic, Dr. Christensen or a member of his team will talk to you about the process of sedation and pre- and post-sedation instructions.
Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is often used as a conscious sedative during a dental visit. The gas is administered with a mixture of oxygen and has a calming effect that helps phobic or anxious patients relax during their dental treatment. Because it is a mild sedative, patients are still conscious and can talk to their pediatric dentist during their visit. After treatment, the nitrous is turned off and oxygen is administered for 3 to 5 minutes to help flush any remaining gas. The effects wear off almost immediately. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects, although some patients may experience minor nausea.