Rockville Pediatric Dental

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Pediatric Sedation Dentistry

Serving Rockville, Bethesda, Potomac, Gaithersburg,
and Silver Spring Areas

Children who are very young, have a high level of anxiety, or have some degree of physical or mental handicap that prevents our pediatric dentists from being able to perform quality dental treatment in a safe manner may require some form of sedation. It requires an understanding of child psychology and development mixed with love, patience, and discipline. In our office, we do not sedate every child who needs dental work. Our goal is to treat your child in the safest, least invasive manner possible as the use of any medication always carries with it some risk. If the treatment required is minimal, we may recommend waiting until the child is more mature to attempt treatment with or without sedation. If sedation is needed, we will take every precaution we can to ensure that the form of sedation selected is as safe as possible.

Our decisions on how to treat a child are dictated by what is in the best interest of your child, not what is most convenient for the dentist or the parent/guardian. In some cases, we may ask for your input to help us facilitate an effective sedation visit. Our goal is to provide as pleasant an experience as possible for you and your child.

Girl undergoing pediatric sedation treatment

Minimal Sedation

In our office, we achieve minimal sedation with nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a slightly sweet smelling, colorless gas that can be used to help a patient tolerate dental treatment by reducing or relieving anxiety, discomfort, or pain. It is delivered by a mask that a dentist places over a child’s nose.

Nitrous oxide has both rapid onset and recovery times. This type of sedation is ideal for children who may have slight anxiety, or have limited dental work that needs to be done. Nitrous oxide is used on patients who have overall good behavior and have treatment that can be done in less than a half hour. During this type of sedation, the patient will respond normally to verbal commands. Nitrous oxide can create a slightly “happy” feeling in children.

Moderate Sedation

Moderate sedation may be recommended for your child to help increase cooperation and reduce anxiety and discomfort/pain associated with dental treatment. The medications selected to sedate your child are based on your child’s age, overall health, level of anxiety, and dental treatment recommendations.

Once the medications have been administered orally, it may take up to an hour before your child is ready for dental treatment. In addition to the oral medication, nitrous oxide gas may be given to help achieve a greater level of sedation. Most children become relaxed and drowsy and may drift into a light sleep from which they can be aroused easily. Unlike general anesthesia, sedation is not intended to make a patient unconscious or unresponsive. Some children may not experience relaxation but an opposite reaction such as agitation or crying. This response to the medication may prevent us from completing the dental procedures.

General Anesthesia/Deep Sedation

General anesthesia may be required to provide safe, efficient, and effective dental care in patients that are extremely uncooperative, apprehensive, anxious, have extensive dental needs, or have certain physical, mental, or medically compromising conditions.

General anesthesia makes your child’s whole body “go to sleep,” so that their reflexes will be completely relaxed. Your child will feel no pain during the procedure, nor have any memory of it.

At this time our office offers treatment under general anesthesia at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, and the University of Maryland Laurel Medical Center.