Dental Sedation for Children in Indianapolis

Children (and adults) often times experience a high level of anxiety when they see a dentist, especially if they need a lot of procedures done at once. Some children also have a high “gag” reflex and / or they could have some form of nervous reaction which could result in a safety issue during the procedure. This is where advanced behavior management techniques can really come to the rescue!

While mild sedation does not control all discomfort or anxiety, it does calm children enough to make the administration of anesthetic (shot) much more comfortable and limits untoward movements that complicate safely removing cavities with a handpiece (drill). Sedation also allows for more time of cooperation, keeping the child relaxed and capable of handling larger treatment plans. Any time an advanced behavior management technique is utilized, children will need to be monitored closely by an adult for an extended period of time after. Although sedation can be very useful for most situations, there are times when health considerations, amount of treatment required, safety of the staff and child, and to protect the developing psyche of a child, general anesthetic is the only safe way to complete treatment. Fortunately, both Dr. Kahn and Dr. Wiley are on staff at St. Vincent Hospital and Carmel Ambulatory Surgery Center, and very experienced in treatment under surgical conditions.

Types of Sedation

Oral Conscious Sedation

Especially in front teeth, if we find that your child has a lot of decay or a fracture, we may recommend a resin crown to cover the entire tooth. Aesthetically speaking, resin is a moldable material and is available in many shades allowing us to custom match the natural tooth color. While this makes an immediate difference in appearance, they do have the tendency to stain and discolor and can even fracture or break over time. This is the main reason that we only recommend them for front teeth and special care is also encouraged to prolong the longevity of the filling. In the event that there is an issue with a back tooth, we recommend a stainless steel crown. These are prefabricated silver crowns that cover the entire visible portion of the tooth. These crowns (commonly referred to as silver caps) are incredibly durable and the favored choice for restoring back teeth when a large portion of the tooth is lost due to extensive decay or a fracture. These crowns are durable enough to sustain normal biting forces and are usually well hidden as they are located in the back of the mouth.

After Sedation

When the procedure is done, you will remain with your child as the medication wears off. The length of time it will take for the medication to wear off will vary, as some children take longer than others to become alert. Children coming out of sedation react in different ways. Your child might cry, be fussy or confused, feel sick to his or her stomach, or vomit. These reactions are normal and will go away as the sedation medication wears off. When your child is discharged, he or she still might be groggy, dizzy, or nauseous, and should take it easy for the rest of the day.

Nitrous Oxide

If during the exam we find that your child has a cavity, we may recommend either a white or a silver filling. Our decision will be mostly based on where the tooth is located and / or how large the cavity is. Resin fillings are typically the material of choice unless the decay is too large in which case a stronger material (such as amalgam) is needed to withstand biting forces. At this point in the process it will be important for us to have an open discussion about the positives and negatives of each option based on the exact needs of your child. Of course we greatly value your opinion, and hope that together we can come up with an action plan makes sense.