August 10, 2017

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 rarely need general anesthesia. However, if they are unusually aggressive or in need of treatment for more than just a few teeth, your dentist may use it. Nevertheless, parents and caregivers are often skeptical about the safety of sedation dentistry for children.

Dentists are likely to use Midazolam to put kids undergoing minor dental surgery to sleep. In fact, it’s the most widely used pediatric sedative. Recent research has shown this drug is safe. In addition, negative side effects in toddlers undergoing dental surgery are considered highly unlikely.

Facts vs. Suspicion

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

Patients received the sedative in one of three ways: via the mouth, nose, or orally in combination with other sedatives. Researchers assigned a success rate to each procedure based on a number of factors. For example, these included 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.

Learn more: Why Generation Z Might Go On to Have the Healthiest Teeth to Date

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

A Less Stressful Way to Quell These Fears

The research team concluded that all three methods of sedation will likely pose no harm for children having 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.

Learn more: Dental Anxiety and Kids: Parents, Caregivers, Dentists All Play a Role

Dental professionals recommend taking 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. In addition, they can help ensure your child doesn’t have to undergo extensive surgery at a young age.

Read next: Dental Trauma and Kids: Common Problems

*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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