Dental Sedation

Indianapolis, IN

Children (and adults) frequently experience moderate dental anxiety when visiting the dentist, particularly if multiple dental procedures done are required in one visit. This anxiety can range from mild to moderate in severity. Additionally, some individuals may have a heightened “gag” reflex or exhibit nervous reactions that could pose safety concerns during the dental 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 for 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. Although sedation can be very useful for most situations, there are times when health considerations, amount of treatment required, safety of the team and child, and to protect the developing psyche of a child, general anesthetic is the only safe way to complete treatment. Fortunately, Dr. Wiley is credentialed at St. Vincent Hospital and Carmel Ambulatory Surgery Center and is very experienced in treatment under surgical conditions.

Types Of Sedation

Oral Conscious Sedation/General Anesthesia

Oral conscious sedation, a sedation dentistry method, involves the use of oral sedatives to diminish anxiety, fostering a sense of calm feeling and reduce a patient’s alertness. This approach is highly effective for managing moderate dental anxiety, offering an optional sedation technique for patients who are nervous, yet cooperative, especially when undergoing multiple technique-sensitive dental procedures. While under oral conscious sedation, patients remain semi-conscious, allowing for the safe completion of dental treatment, often in combination with nitrous oxide for enhanced comfort during oral surgery or other dental practices.

General anesthesia is the treatment option of choice for patients who need 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.

Nitrous Oxide

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. 

After Sedation

After the completion of the oral surgery or procedure, you will remain with your child as the oral sedatives gradually wear off. The duration for the sedation to diminish varies, with some children requiring more time than others to regain alertness. The response to emerging from sedation dentistry can differ among children, reflecting variations in their experience of mild to moderate anxiety recovery. This phase is an integral part of the sedation dentistry method, ensuring that optional sedation is safely managed until your child is fully conscious. 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 is 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.


A pediatric dentist provides comprehensive dental services focusing on preventive care, including dental cleanings, fluoride treatments, and the application of dental sealants to protect children’s teeth from decay. Emphasizing early oral treatments and regular dental checkups, they aim to prevent cavities and promote lifelong oral health.

Pediatric sedation dentistry offers several methods to ensure comfort and safety for pediatric patients undergoing dental procedures. Oral sedation and nitrous oxide sedation are key options for managing mild to moderate dental anxiety. Oral sedatives help create a calm state without complete unconsciousness, allowing for longer procedures to be completed with ease. Nitrous oxide is inhaled to reduce anxiety and is fully reversible by the end of the visit, making it a preferred sedation option for pediatric dentistry.

For pediatric patients with special needs or those undergoing complex dental treatment, deep sedation or general anesthesia provides a safe pathway to receive dental care without distress. Administered by a licensed anesthesiologist in a controlled environment, this sedation dentistry method ensures that the pediatric dental specialist can perform necessary oral surgery or extensive dental work efficiently and safely, minimizing stress for both the child and parents. This approach is particularly beneficial for full mouth rehabilitation or when traditional behavior management techniques are not viable.

Pediatric dentistry employs child psychology techniques and a gentle approach to dental care, creating a friendly and supportive environment. This helps manage dental phobias, ensuring that children feel comfortable and safe during their dental visits and treatments.

Regular dental checkups are crucial for monitoring the development of a child‘s permanent teeth, identifying dental issues early, and providing timely interventions. These visits support overall dental health by offering preventive care, guidance on tooth oral care, and strategies to maintain healthy dental practices from an early age.

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