We all have certain situations that make us nervous. We may feel a little anxious when preparing for a significant social engagement, planning a party, or practicing to give a big speech. And it should come as no surprise that kids get nervous too.
Going to the dentist can be a source of severe anxiety for kids, especially those with special needs and those who haven’t been to the dentist frequently enough yet to know that there is nothing to worry about. Yet we can’t forego dental care for our kids due to dental anxiety. So what’s the solution? Here is where dental sedation for kids comes into play.
Is dental sedation safe for kids?
The first question that most parents have when it comes to sedation dentistry is whether or not it is safe. And the team here at We Make Kids Smile in Waldorf and Prince Frederick, MD, can tell you that, yes, sedation dentistry is safe for kids. However, with any procedure, there are risks.
For this reason, your dentist will conduct a complete medical history on your child before administering nitrous oxide or oral sedation in the office. And if there are any concerns, we can admit your child to a nearby hospital to receive dental care under general anesthesia.
1. What type of sedation dentistry for kids do you offer at We Make Kids Smile?
We offer both nitrous oxide and oral sedation. Nitrous oxide is a gas administered by a tube that we place over your child’s nose. Your child will then breathe in a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen, which results in a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. For some kids, this results in giggles, thus why nitrous oxide is commonly referred to as laughing gas. Occasionally, patients tell us they feel some tingling in their hands and feet, but this feeling is temporary and usually wears off in just a few minutes after the laughing gas is turned off.
Oral sedation is a type of conscious sedation and is taken via a pill or a liquid sedative before the procedure begins. This process helps to relax your child. In most cases, an oral sedative will make your child feel sleepy, but they will remain awake and cooperative for the procedure. When children are given an oral sedative for a dental procedure, we recommend that parents have their child rest at home for the remainder of the day before returning to normal activities the next day. We will determine the appropriate medication for oral sedation based on their medical history.
2. When should my child go to the dentist for the first time?
We get this question a lot because many parents don’t realize that they can and should bring their child to the dentist for the first time once their first tooth comes in or around their first birthday, whichever comes first. That first dental appointment helps set the stage for oral success and helps to build trust between your child and their dentist.
3. Are X-rays okay for baby teeth?
Most dentists will recommend X-rays for your baby’s teeth around age two or three. This first set of X-rays will include images of the front upper and lower teeth. One goal in taking X-rays at this early age is to help familiarize your child with the process, but also to help ensure your dentist can get a complete picture of your child’s oral situation. Later, once the baby teeth in the back have come in and are touching each other, X-rays of those teeth will be taken. Going forward, dental X-rays are usually taken every year and are perfectly safe for baby teeth.
4. What does a cavity look like?
In many cases, cavities can’t be seen by parents and are usually discovered by the dentist during your child’s oral evaluation every six months. Cavities come from tooth decay and appear as little holes or chips in the teeth but can also look like dark spots on the teeth. Cavities can vary in size from very small to nearly the size of the tooth itself. The best way to prevent a cavity is to practice good oral care at home with your child, encourage them to eat tooth-friendly foods, and take them to their dental visits every six months.
5. What kind of toothpaste should I use for my child?
This is another common question we hear from parents of kids of all pages. We recommend fluoride-free baby toothpaste for kids under 2 years of age. Be sure to use a soft toothbrush and brush your baby’s teeth and gums twice daily. Between ages 2 and 6 (or when your child can spit), we suggest fluoride toothpaste as the American Dental Association (ADA) recommended.
For toddlers, we suggest you find some toddler toothbrushing songs to play while they brush. These songs are a great way to teach your children good oral care and to help them love toothbrushing time. After this, stick to a kid-friendly toothpaste, and let your child switch to an adult toothpaste around age 7 or when their dentist recommends it. Plan to help your child brush until age seven or when they demonstrate that they can do it independently. Help children floss until about age 10.
6. What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
There are many types of dentists, and we know that this can be confusing at times. When it comes to selecting a dentist, most parents will choose either a pediatric dentist or a family dentist. Both types of dentists are skilled and equipped to work with children. The difference, however, is that pediatric dentists and their dental teams work exclusively with children of all abilities and ages. Working with children from infancy through adolescence is their specialty vs. training to work with people of all ages.
Talk to the team at We Make Kids Smile to learn how dental sedation is safe for kids.
If you want to learn more about whether or not dental sedation is safe for kids or if your child needs a dental cleaning and oral evaluation, come see why We Make Kids Smile is different from other pediatric dentists. We’re confident that you and your child will love our dentists and appreciate our approach to sedation dentistry and any dental treatment your child requires. Request an appointment today. We can’t wait to see you and your child.