Oral conscious sedation is the use of medications that help reduce anxiety, create a calm feeling and reduce a patient’s alertness. This is a great tool when a patient is very nervous, but cooperative, and has many technique sensitive procedures to complete. Patients are not completely unconscious while using these medications. They can be used in combination with nitrous oxide to safely complete dental treatment.
General anesthesia is the treatment option of choice for patients that have the need for full mouth rehabilitation or cannot cooperate for treatment in the office. A licensed anesthesiologist is used at an outpatient surgery center to safely keep a patient completely unconscious for 1-2 hours to complete all necessary treatment. With the physician focused on keeping the patient safe, the pediatric dentist can create ideal treatment outcomes in a well-controlled environment.
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. A sore nose or throat are common for several days after anesthesia. 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 is a tasteless, odorless gas that is inhaled, in combination with oxygen, to provide anxiolysis (reduce anxiety/nerves), mild anesthetic (numbing) and amnestic (memory loss) qualities and sometimes a sense of euphoria (feeling good). It is a great tool to help keep children calm and distracted for injections and long enough for dental treatment to be completed safely. The use of this medication requires additional training and equipment. Pediatric dentists prefer using nitrous oxide because it can be titrated (adjusted) specifically for a child’s needs and is completely gone from the body by the time the child leaves the office.