Sedation is a technique used to guide a child’s behavior during dental treatment. Medications are used to help increase cooperation and to reduce anxiety or discomfort associated with dental procedures. Sedative medications cause most children to become relaxed and drowsy. Unlike general anesthesia, sedation is not intended to make a patient unconscious or unresponsive.

Sedation may be indicated for children who are pre-cooperative (this includes children who have a level of anxiety that prevents good coping skills), those who are very young and do not understand how to cope in a cooperative fashion, or those requiring extensive dental treatment. Sedation can also be helpful for some patients who have special needs.

Sedation is used for a child’s safety and comfort during dental procedures. It allows the child to cope better with dental treatment and helps prevent injury to the child from uncontrolled or undesirable movements. Sedation promotes a better environment for providing dental care.

Various medications can be used to sedate a child. Medicines will be selected based upon your child’s overall health, level of anxiety and dental treatment recommendations.

Sedation can be used safely and effectively by a pediatric dentist who follows the sedation guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Sherry is Fellowship-trained in pediatric sedation. The age of the child and the amount of treatment needed is what determines whether or not we use nitrous or we sedate the child. Dr. Sherry will discuss sedation options and patient monitoring for the safety and comfort of your child.

Children often perceive a parent’s anxiety which makes them more fearful. They tolerate procedures best when their parents understand what to expect and prepare them for the experience. If you have any questions about the sedation process, please ask. As you become more confident, so will your child.

We will provide you with additional detailed instructions before your sedation visit. It is very important to follow the directions regarding fasting from fluids and foods prior to the sedation appointment.

Should your child become ill, contact our office to see if it is necessary to postpone the appointment. Tell Dr. Sherry about any prescribed, over-the-counter or herbal medications your child is taking. Check with her to see if routine medications should be taken the day of the sedation.

Dr. Sherry will evaluate your child’s health status and discharge your child when he/she is responsive, stable and ready to go. Children recover from effects of sedatives at different rates so be prepared to remain at the office until the after-effects are minimal. Once home, your child must remain under adult supervision until fully recovered from the effects of the sedation. Dr. Sherry will discuss specific post-sedation instructions with you, including appropriate diet and physical activity.

Post-Sedation Instructions 

It is important for your child's safety that you follow these instructions carefully! Failure to follow these instructions could result in unnecessary complications.

  • ACTIVITIES: Do NOT plan or permit activities for your child after treatment. Allow your child to rest. Closely supervise any activity for the remainder of the day. When sleeping, encourage your child to lie on his/her side or stomach.
  • DRINKING or EATING after TREATMENT: After treatment, we ask that you give your child fluids. They have not had anything to eat or drink for some time and we want to make sure that they stay hydrated. We ask that you start with clear liquids. Small drinks taken repeatedly are preferable to taking large amounts at one time. We ask that you wait until your child’s mouth is no longer numb before starting foods. Start with soft foods (mashed potatoes, yogurt, soup, pudding, jello, ice cream, etc.).
  • EXTRACTIONS: If your child had teeth removed, a small amount of bleeding is normal. Do NOT let your child spit, as this will cause more bleeding. In order to not disturb the blood clot, do NOT use a straw to drink for the first 24 hours. Also, remember that a small amount of blood mixed in with a lot of spit in the mouth looks like a lot of blood.
  • SEEK ADVICE: If any of the following problems arise, call Charleston Pediatric Dentistry, or if the office cannot be reached, call the Emergency Department at your nearest hospital:

    -    If vomiting persists beyond four (4) hours.
    -    If the temperature remains elevated beyond 24 hours or goes above 101°F.
    -    If there is any difficulty breathing or coloration of the skin is poor.
    -    If any other matter causes you concern.