A step up from nitrous oxide is oral sedation. The overall goal is to treat each child in the safest and least invasive manner, while still ensuring a pain-free (and even enjoyable!) appointment. However, sometimes certain procedures and/or children are better suited for oral sedation than for nitrous oxide. This can occur with surgical procedures, if a procedure is particularly painful without sedation, if the child has a low pain threshold or in instances when the child has a very high fear of the procedures.
When this option is chosen, the patient is closely monitored throughout the appointment via machines to monitor heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen levels in the blood and the depth of breathing. This ensures the patient is safe throughout the procedure, and there are always emergency tools in the room.
Oral sedation is a safe technique, but there are minute risks—and our expert staff is prepared for them.
Getting Ready for Sedation
Children who are ill or battling a cold aren’t suitable for sedation and will need to be rescheduled. Sedation requires an empty stomach, so no food is allowed the day of the procedure and only clear liquids are allowed until two hours prior to the procedure. These restrictions mean it’s best to schedule the procedure earlier in the day to avoid grumbling tummies in the afternoon.
It can take up to 45 minutes for oral sedation to take effect, and each person reacts differently. After sedation, parents are provided with an instruction sheet on follow-up care. Patients will need to stick around for a little while post-procedure for observation. Supervision at home to avoid falls is important, and children should sleep on their sides for the next 24 hours.
A little discomfort after the anesthesia wears off is common, but can be treated with something simple like children’s Motrin. While oral sedation is safe, it’s key to follow instructions in order to achieve a safe procedure and the happiest kids.