Anesthesia and Sedation

General Anesthesia

Patients looking to put their children to sleep during their dental treatment choose to go to Willow Pass Dental Care Pediatric Department. We make general anesthesia or putting your child completely to sleep while having dental treatment done, a potential option.

Why Do General Anesthesia?

Young children or toddlers are often very frightened of the dentist. The sounds they hear from the dental drill and the feeling of pressure that they feel, can make them go into hysterics, even if they do not actually feel pain. Moreover, some children need to have a lot of dental work completed on multiple teeth. Thus, it is often best to put the child completely to sleep and finish all of the treatment in one, stress-free visit.

How Does it Work?

To provide the safest and most comfortable way to treat young children with a lot of decay, we hire an Anesthesiologist to come to the office regularly. The general anesthesiologist will give the child some oral medication that helps make them drowsy. Afterwards, the anesthesiologist will start an IV and give the right dosage of drugs to completely put the child to sleep. Once the child is completely sleeping, the anesthesiologist monitors the child’s breathing and vital signs, while the pediatric dentist provides all necessary treatment.

What are the Advantages to General Anesthesia?

The greatest advantage of putting a child to sleep while getting their dental work done is that they will not be traumatized by their dental work. Some of the medications that are used actually help the child forget all about what happened during the treatment. Also, once the child is completely asleep, all treatment, including X-rays, fillings, crowns, and cleanings can be done at once in a manner that is not traumatic or scary for the child.

What are the Disadvantages of General Anesthesia?

Although the risks are very low, particularly because we at Willow Pass Dental Care Pediatric Department employ a dental anesthesiologist to oversee the procedure, some parents are not comfortable having their little ones completely put to sleep. The biggest disadvantage of general anesthesia however, is the cost. Most insurances do not cover the treatment and the anesthesiologist visiting the office will charge a set amount, which is due to the expensive medications and materials that are used. Fortunately, our office does try to help patients afford this option through Care Credit.

Who is a Good Candidate for Pediatric General Anesthesia?

The younger the child, the more suitable of a candidate they are to be put to sleep through treatment. This will prevent them from being scared of the dentist, both during the present treatment and in the future. Some older children also have an inexplicable fear of the dentist. These children too would benefit greatly from being put to sleep. Also, children that need a lot of dental work, which may normally require multiple appointments, may benefit from dental anesthesia because the child can have everything done at once. Finally, some special needs children would rather be put to sleep before having their dental treatment done. Often, these children only get their dental treatment done in a hospital. However, since Willow Pass Dental Care Pediatric Department office, including the pediatric dentist have an anesthesiologist on staff, these children can be treated in the comfort of a private dental office.


Pediatric Conscious Sedation

To decrease the anxiety that many children have for getting their treatment done, we at Willow Pass Dental Care Pediatric Department offer our patients the option of oral sedation. Oral or conscious sedation is also an option at our office.

What is Oral Sedation?

Oral sedation involves the ingestion of prescription anti-anxiety medication that puts the children in a more relaxed state so that they will be more receptive to the dental procedure. While different medications are used by different pediatric offices, our office makes sure to only use the safest and effective medications. The child simply drinks the medication and, after about an hour, starts feeling much calmer. The combination of the sedative medication and the nitrous gas (laughing gas) helps put the child in a relaxed state, which can make the procedure much more bearable.

How Does Oral Sedation Work?

The child is asked to come to the office on an empty stomach and is given the oral sedation an hour before the appointment. While the effects differ on each child, the drugs have a calming effect and often make the child drowsy.The child will still be able to respond to stimulation, recognize voices, and maintain his or her natural protective reflexes. With the sedation however, the child will not be as scared of the dentist or the procedure as he or she was before taking it. This is one great way to get the child to relax and have a much more comfortable dental visit.

What Are Advantages or Disadvantages to Oral Sedation?

The pediatric dental experts at Willow Pass Dental Care highly recommend oral sedation for younger kids who have a lot of dental treatment that needs to be completed. The amount of sedation medication is given based on the child’s weight to make sure it is safe. Also, the pediatric dentist monitors the child’s breathing throughout the procedure to be sure that the airway is kept clear. Although the child may fall asleep after taking the sedative medication, they can be roused easily and can respond to commands. Overall, they are more comfortable and less anxious while getting their dental treatment done. The only real disadvantage is that sometimes even after treatment children may be drowsy and less alert. Parents should monitor their children after treatment and not allow them to partake in too many rigorous activities, like sports, after being sedated. It is also important to make sure their chin is lifted and their head is not sagging down to their chest when they sleep to prevent a closure of the airway.

Who is a Good Candidate?

Smaller children, who are more afraid of the dentist, will do best when placed under oral conscious sedation. Special needs children can also benefit from being more relaxed by taking some oral medication an hour before treatment. Finally, kids with anxiety who are more afraid of the dentist will do better if they are given some sedative drugs.

Nitrous Gas

In each of our state-of-the-art treatment rooms, we offer nitrous or laughing gas to help children feel more at ease during their treatment.

What are the Benefits of Nitrous or Laughing Gas?

The pediatric dental experts at the Willow Pass Dental Care Pediatric Department often make use of nitrous gas because it is a safe and effective way to help alleviate some of a child’s dental anxiety. The child has the gas placed on his or her nose using a special nose piece. This nose piece comes in various different fun flavors, like strawberry or bubblegum. By simply focusing the child’s attention to smelling the sweet flavors, the child can be distracted, which prevents them from focusing on the sounds and potentially uncomfortable feelings they experience during treatment. The nitrous gas itself also decreases their gag reflex, keeping the child from wanting to throw up during treatment, and enhances the numb feeling they have, so the child feels more comfortable.

How Does Nitrous Gas Work?

Nitrous gas, or what is commonly known as laughing gas, is a combination of nitrogen and oxygen and is administered to the patient with a fitted facial mask that goes over the child’s nose. This mask delivers the gas into the patient’s system to effectively sedate him. During the delivery of nitrous gas, children will smell a sweet aroma that will give them a sense of relaxation and well-being, similar to feeling giddy. Nitrous gas exerts its effect by raising the pain threshold and making the child more comfortable during the procedure. It may also appear to the child as though time has moved quickly. After the treatment, letting the child take in regulated breaths of oxygen will reverse the effects of nitrous gas.

How does Nitrous Combine With Other Sedation or Anesthesia?

If a child needs to be under pediatric oral sedation in order to have his/her treatment completed, the pediatric dentist in our office recommends using both the sedative drugs and the nitrous gas. These sedation tools work together to make the child as calm as possible throughout the course of treatment. Research shows that using nitrous gas also decreases the child’s response to pain, making them feel more numb after the placement of local sedation.

Is Nitrous Gas Safe For Children?

Nitrous gas is potentially the safest sedative that is being used in the dental industry. It has a rapid onset effect so that children feel its effects almost instantaneously as long as they breathe through their nose. Once the treatment is completed, it is immediately reversed by having the child breath in oxygen for a couple of minutes. Afterwards, the child is free to go back to school or continue daily activities without feeling any residual affects. Finally, nitrous gas is completely adjustable, so that the right dose is given for every child. These features make it an ideal sedative for any patient, especially anxious children.