Sedating Children

22 Nov 2017

Children are not like adults. But their need for dental treatment is greater than that for adults because they have a lifetime ahead of them. There are situations when children need to undergo dental treatment. However, unlike the adults, children are usually too scared or uncooperative to allow the dentist to perform the treatment under local anesthesia. In these cases, non-cooperative and anxious children are given dental treatment under sedation.

Forms of sedation

The dentist will choose the mildest form of sedation that will suffice. The options are:

  • Conscious Sedation – Sometimes it is sufficient to relax the patient, to allay fears, or to prevent violent obstructive movements. This conscious sedation is used where the patient remains conscious of what goes on. He or she can respond to pain, cues, and commands. Protective reflexes are retained. Thus, he or she can warn the dentist in case of pain. Conscious Sedation may be done in many ways:
  • Inhalation Sedation – Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is mixed with oxygen, and given through a face mask. The gas acts fast, and after the treatment, the effect wears out quickly. Patients should have had only a light meal.
  • Oral Sedation– For stronger sedation oral medicines may be given, in liquid or tablet form. With a proper dose the child will be sleepy but can be readily aroused. The child will be able to obey simple commands by the dentist. Nausea or vomiting may occur in some patients.
  • Other Methods of sedation– Intravenous or intra-muscular sedatives can also be given per the situation. Suppositories may also be used
    in younger children.
  • General anesthesia – When the dental surgeon needs to keep the patient unconscious for a longer period, he or she will use general anesthesia. The child will be unconscious and will need time to recover senses and muscle control.
Before and After

Before sedation / anesthesia, the patient will normally be required only have a light meal. In case of general anesthesia, the child needs to be kept under surveillance until he or she recovers her senses and control fully. The patient may also react to food intake.


Speak to your dentist prior to any procedure to make sure all your questions have been answered.

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