Pediatric Dentist in Gainesville, VA Discusses Oral Conscious Sedation & General Anesthesia

In the field of pediatric dentistry, there are often many times in which conscious sedation or even general anesthesia is required. This may be due to children’s behavioral problems, the complexity or length of treatment required, or basic apprehension about getting dental care. While nitrous oxide is typically the first choice for sedation, sometimes it can be difficult to get children to comply with this simple treatment. In this case, there are other options for sedation. Here are a few methods of oral conscious sedation as well as some facts about general anesthesia. 
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs known as anxiolytics, meaning they reduce anxiety. Drugs such as Alprazolam (Xanax) and Lorazepam (Ativan) are common, well-known drugs in this class. Benzodiazepines are often used to help reduce anxiety in pediatric dental patients. Midazolam is a common drug used to help sedate patients, since it is fast acting and has a relatively short half-life. Midazolam also produces postoperative amnesia, leaving the child with no memory of the dental procedure. Doses of benzodiazepines are carefully calculated to match the weight of a child, and very small doses of midazolam are needed to achieve the desired effects. 
Hydroxyzine is an anti-histamine often used in oral conscious sedation, and very often used in combination with nitrous oxide, benzodiazepines, or both. As an antihistamine, it has natural sedation effects and can help propagate the effects of midazolam. It can also help prevent the nausea that sometimes occurs during the use of oral sedatives. 
General Anesthesia
General anesthesia is the technical phrase for what most would call “being put to sleep.” General anesthesia does have a place in pediatric dentistry, although it usually reserved for the most challenging patients, the most challenging cases, or the combination of both. This type of anesthesia is administered with an IV line, allowing the dosage of the sedative to be controlled throughout the procedure—a distinct advantage of IV sedation. 
Although the use of general anesthetics can seem a little unsettling for parents, they are in fact quite safe and very effective. Best of all, general anesthesia allows for a large amount of dental work to be done in one sitting, leaving the child with no memory of the procedure. 
Specific guidelines must be adhered to leading up to procedures requiring either IV sedation or general anesthesia. Specifically, there are rules regarding the consumption of food and drink leading up to the appointment. Generally speaking, patients should not eat or drink non-clear beverages after midnight the night before the procedure. 
If you have a child who has severe apprehension about dental treatment or needs extensive dental care, rest assured that there are safe and effective sedation methods that can allow your child to receive dental care without a traumatic experience. By using sedation, your child can have easier and happier dental appointments that can make them more willing dental patients as adults. Sedation does more than allow your child to easily get dental care—it allows them to start a lifetime of dental care in a positive way. 
To schedule your next appointment with a leading pediatric dentist in Gainesville, VA, please give our office a call at (703) 753 8600. We look forward to hearing from you.

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