If you find that you dread your child's dental visits more than your own or have ever been charged a "behavior management fee" by your child's dentist after a particularly difficult exam, you may be wondering whether sedation dentistry is a less stressful alternative. For many families, sedation dentistry allows exams to be performed even on the most stubborn or non-compliant children, as well as those with developmental disabilities or anxiety disorders that make these exams tough. But sedation dentistry isn't right for every situation or every child. Read on for just a few of the factors you'll want to consider when deciding whether sedation dentistry is the best option for your child and family.
Is Your Child's Dental Fear Specific or General?
Some children have a general fear of doctors and dentists — general in that they haven't had a specific bad experience or memory they can point to as the impetus for their fear. In other cases, a traumatic medical procedure can trigger a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that manifests itself whenever your child finds him or herself back in a similar environment. General fears are, in general, easier to work through by playacting or other calming methods. However, children who have mild to moderate PTSD may need to be sedated for their first visit back into a medical environment, then be slowly weaned from this approach as they begin to learn that there's nothing to fear from the dentist.
Does Your Child Have Medical Issues?
Although sedation dentistry doesn't usually involve the use of general anesthesia, it's still not risk-free — and for children with heart or respiratory issues, the medication used for sedation may not be advised. Sedation carries with it the risk that the person being sedated may breathe in their own saliva or vomit, potentially resulting in serious complications. Because of this, children and adults undergoing sedation dentistry are usually instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight the day before the procedure.
However, proper dental care is also a health priority, and if sedation dentistry is the only possible way for your child to successfully complete a general dentistry appointment, this may outweigh the mild risks posed by the sedation procedure.
Has Role-Playing a Dental Visit Helped So Far?
One of the most effective ways to calm a child's medical phobia is to work through real-life scenarios so that they have a better idea of what to expect. For children who need to go to the dentist, this can involve practicing letting you or another adult look at your child's teeth with a mirror (then allowing your child to look at your teeth with the mirror), as well as practicing sitting patiently in the dental chair, opening one's mouth on command, and spitting into a sink or basin.
After a week or two of periodically role-playing a dental visit, most children will show that their nerves have calmed at least a bit. But if your child is no closer to consenting to a dentist visit than they were before, this may be a sign that sedation dentistry remains the only workable option at this point.Share
28 June 2019
Being born with naturally soft teeth, I've spent a lot of time in and out of the dentist's office. Not only have I learned a lot about basic dental care, I've also discovered many tips for dealing with broken teeth, extractions, implants, and more. I decided that I wanted to make the most of my experience by sharing what I've learned with others. True first-hand experience is a great teacher, and I knew that my story could help. I created this site to do just that, and I hope that the information here helps you to understand what to expect from your dental problems.