Sedation Dentistry for Kids: Helping Relieve Anxiety

Sedation Dentistry for Kids: Helping Relieve Anxiety


Dental anxiety doesn’t only affect adults, it is also extremely common in children. In fact, studies estimate that around 20% of school-aged kids are afraid of visiting their dental professional. You might wonder why a child could develop a fear of the dentist, particularly if they haven’t had a bad dental experience before. Nevertheless, it is perfectly normal for children to experience fear of the unknown. The sights, sounds, and smells of a dental office, combined with a sea of strange faces and not knowing what to expect from their appointment can easily make children become anxious or even fearful about their visit. They may also worry about being separated from their parents, even for just a few moments, since most associate safety being with their mom, dad or other adult guardians. 


Inherited fear is another leading cause of the dental phobia. This is where your child recognizes your fear of the dentist and replicates it. Children tend to think of their parents as being extremely brave and tough. Therefore, if you show any sign that you may be anxious or fearful about dental visits, your child will automatically think that there is something to be scared of. One of the best ways to prevent your child from developing dental anxiety is to not let them see your own fear. Try and demonstrate a positive attitude about dental visits using whatever method works best for you. 


Using Sedation Dentistry to Help Your Anxious Child


Understanding that many children remain anxious about visiting the dentist, an increasing number of dentistry offices are now offering pediatric sedation dentistry. This is where sedative medications are used to relax and calm the child so that they can easily tolerate their dental appointment and get the all-important care that they need without stress and fear. These medications are administered alongside anesthetic to ensure that your child doesn’t experience any pain. 


There are various types of sedation available. Which your child will be offered will depend on the extent of their fear and the treatment that they require. Generally speaking, the more invasive and lengthier the treatment, the greater the level of sedation will be offered. However, your child will be monitored continually by an anesthetist throughout the procedure to ensure that they are safe and do not experience any adverse effects from the sedation. 


The various types of sedation are as follows:


Minimal sedation: nitrous oxide is usually used, and this is administered via a mask placed over your child’s nose whilst the treatment is performed. Your child will be awake but will feel calm and relaxed. 


Moderate sedation: usually administered orally around an hour before your child’s appointment, they will be awake for the duration of their procedure but will have little awareness of what is happening and probably won’t remember the appointment. 


Deep sedation: This is normally administered intravenously and places your child on the edge of consciousness meaning that they will have no awareness and no memory of the procedure. 


In some cases, it may be possible for your child to have a general anesthetic which puts them to sleep for the duration of the procedure. Your dentist will talk you through each of the sedation options and let you know what you can expect from each. 



If you would like to find out more about sedation dentistry and how it could help your child overcome their anxiety about visiting the dentist, please contact our reassuring dental team in Milpitas, CA. 


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