The Risks of Anesthesia In Pediatric Dental Care

Child Holding Up Tooth Model

Sedation is a service available at most dental clinics across the US. Receiving sedation is unnecessary for most forms of preventative dental care. However, many parents have concerns when a procedure requiring sedation involves a child. Sedation dentistry can be beneficial for pediatric patients for many reasons. Particularly anxious or fidgety children may need sedation to relax them so the dentist can safely work on their oral health. When procedures that may be painful, then sedation dentistry can be used to ease pain and ensure a positive experience. Sedation and anesthesia are safe for children when performed by an individual trained in these processes.

Are Anesthetics Safe For Children? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics has laid out guidelines governing using and administering of sedatives and anesthesia to children. The specifics of these guidelines vary depending on the method being used. These guidelines ensure that there are precautions to ensure everything is done safely and effectively. While a rare occurrence, these guidelines include steps to take if serious problems occur during treatment. Deep sedation is rarely used on children, and it’s where these problems are most likely to occur.  

The types of sedation available for dental care are included below:

  • Nitrous Oxide – This is by far the mildest of all forms of sedation. It is delivered in the form of a gas administered through a mask. Dentists can instantly adjust the amount of gas the patient receives. Throughout the treatment, the patient will remain conscious and relaxed. This consciousness allows them to communicate concerns and the essential information to the dentist.
  • Mild Sedation – Mild sedation can involve multiple forms of medication. When children are involved, the dentist will often skip this kind of sedation. Instead, they’ll go to moderate sedation or stick with nitrous oxide. This choice of sedation is not due to any particular risks involved. Instead, it involves medication in pill form, which takes time to set in.
  • Moderate Sedation – Moderate sedation is a more potent form of sedation available at many dental clinics. This process involves sufficient medication to render the patient sleepy and generally unresponsive. While not as deep as deep sedation, it relieves dental anxiety or fidgety movement concerns.
  • Deep Sedation – Deep sedation is administered with the help of two trained professionals. One of these individuals will be directly involved in delivering the anesthesia. The other is strictly there to observe and watch for problems. They will only sometimes take an active role in the delivery of care.

All forms of sedation are primarily safe for patients of any age. However, there are increasing risks as more potent forms of sedation are provided. As such, your dentists will typically choose to use the mildest sedation method appropriate for the care they’ll provide.

Inquire About Your Dentist’s Anesthetic Options

Not all dental clinics will provide all forms of sedation. During your next visit to the clinic, ask your dentist about the sedation options available at their practice. They’ll explain which options they offer and which might be appropriate for your oral health concerns.


Give us a call today, or use our online form to schedule an appointment where the doctor can evaluate your teeth, and determine how we can help you achieve your oral health goals.

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