Anesthesia and Sedation for your Child

Most parents feel anxious for their children whenever the dentist mentions anesthesia and/or sedation is required for a procedure. If you are one of these parents, you might have a long list of questions to ask your dentist. If it is your child’s first time to undergo dental procedure under anesthesia, continue reading below as we run through important questions that might be on your mind.

What is the difference between Anesthesia and Sedation?

Anesthesia is a way to control pain during a procedure or surgery. It has two types: Local Anesthesia and General Anesthesia.

Local Anesthesia uses an anesthetic agent administered directly to numb a particular area while the patient remains fully conscious.

General Anesthesia is most commonly used for surgical procedures that requires the patient to be unconscious. Administered through a mask or intravenously, children under general anesthesia are completely unaware of their surroundings and are not responsive.

On the other hand, Sedation is considered a “lighter sleep”. During sedation, children is unaware of the surroundings but will respond to stimulation and following directions such as asking them to open their mouth.

When to use Local Anesthesia, General Anesthesia, and Sedation

Whether to use Local Anesthesia, General Anesthesia, or Sedation is based on the type of procedure and the behaviour of your child.

If it’s a minor surgery such as removal of loose baby teeth and your child is highly cooperative, then a local anesthesia will suffice. However, sedation is needed for kids undergoing minor surgery who are fearful and can’t stay seated for a long time.

For major surgical procedures, such as multiple extraction of baby teeth or endodontic treatment, general anesthesia is often given to the child.

How will my child come out of anesthesia?

For local anesthesia, numbness may persist after a few more hours after the dental procedure. The dentist may instruct you to keep your child from talking and eating after a few hours to avoid injury to the lip or tongue.

For general anesthesia and sedation, your child will be groggy or drowsy afterwards. Your child will be monitored until fully awake.

Anesthesia and sedation are safe and effective for children undergoing dental procedures. If you have any questions regarding the anesthesia to be used for your child’s procedure, please don’t hesitate to ask your dental team. You and your child’s safety and comfort is every dental team’s utmost concern.

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