Sedation Dentistry for Kids: Should You Worry?

children running in a field

Parents and caregivers are often skeptical about the safety of sedation dentistry for children.

Children only need general anesthesia if they are unusually aggressive or in need of treatment for more than just a few teeth. Still, parents and caregivers are often skeptical about the safety of sedation dentistry for children.

Dentists are likely to put kids undergoing minor dental surgery to sleep with Midazolam, the most widely used pediatric sedative. Recent research has shown this drug is safe and highly unlikely to lead to negative side effects in toddlers undergoing dental surgery.

Facts vs. Suspicion

A team from Ohio State University (OSU) examined 650 previous cases of sedation dentistry being used on 333 male children and 317 female children.*

Patients received the sedative in one of three ways: via the mouth, nose, or orally in combination with other, more powerful sedatives. Researchers assigned a success rate to each procedure based on factors including the behavior of the patient, effectiveness of the sedation, presence of negative side effects, and number of teeth treated.

According to Bite Magazine, all three types of procedures achieved success rates of over 85%. Oral administration had the lowest rate of negative side effects.


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The dental teams saw post-procedural nausea and/or vomiting in less than 4% of the patients, the majority of whom were administered multiple sedatives. Less than 6% of patients displayed “angry-child syndrome,” which is when the sedative evokes the opposite reaction due to a loss of emotional control.

A Less Stressful Way to Quell These Fears

The research team ultimately concluded that all three types of sedative administration will likely pose no harm for children undergoing the most common types of dental surgery.

“In our study, Midazolam in several forms and combinations proved effective and safe with minimal side effects. We can recommend these uses of Midazolam for necessary treatment in young children,” the researchers concluded.

…several forms and combinations proved effective and safe with minimal side effects…

Waiting until a child’s third or fourth year to see the dentist has proven hazardous. It’s now fairly common for toddlers to display potentially serious dental problems that began during infancy.

New parents who remain fearful of general anesthesia should heed the advice of dental professionals and take children for their first dental visit when they are just six months to one year old. Earlier dental visits can help prevent these problems from arising and ensure your child doesn’t have to undergo extensive surgery at a young age.

*Article Citation: Safety and Efficacy of 3 Pediatric Midazolam Moderate Sedation Regimens. Anesthesia Progress: Summer 2017, Vol. 64, No. 2, pp. 66-72.

 

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