Children's Dentistry |6 min read

Child-Safe Sedation Dentistry: A Guide For Parents

Loving mother hugging her daughter before a sedation dentistry procedure

We all want what’s best for our children; it’s part of being a parent.

When it comes to dental procedures that might require sedation, it’s normal to have concerns or worries.

Rest assured, sedation for childrenThis link leads to Sedation Dentistry page during dental work is a safe and carefully monitored practice approved by medical experts.

Our pediatric dentistry practiceThis link leads to Pediatric Dentistry page has put together some educational material on child-safe sedation dentistry to put your mind at ease.

Is sedation safe for kids?

Sedation helps make dental procedures more comfortable for children who might feel anxious or scared.

It’s like taking a gentle nap while the dentist works on their teeth.

Dr. Tracy L. WilkersonThis link opens Doctors page has 20-plus years of pediatric dental experience and oversees the entire process to ensure your child’s safety.

Let’s look at the evidence for why children’s sedation is safe and effective, helping young patients receive the dental care they need.

Child surgical statistics

Did you know surgeons perform an average of 3.9 million surgeries on children in the U.S. each year, as reported by the National Institutes of HealthThis link opens a new tab to National Institute of Health website.

Though not all of these require sedation, many of them do.

Medical professionals, such as pediatric dentists and anesthesiologists, oversee the entire process to ensure the child’s safety.

Surgery has been performed safely on children as young as a few hours old!

Health of the child

Most children are relatively healthy, making any risks incredibly minimal.

We’ll assess your child’s health history, weight, and individual needs to decide the safest type and amount of sedation, tailoring it specifically for your little one.

We’ll also consider the treatment your child is receiving and any fears, anxiety, or special needs to decide on the most effective route.

History of child sedation

You can be confident knowing that the sedation methods we use date back more than a hundred years!

Throughout the years, the recommended dosages based on size and the known risks have become well-established, so dentists can confidently determine if it’s safe for your child and the appropriate amount to administer.

Short-lived side effects

We can’t stress enough the effects of sedation won’t cause any long-term issues, even if a person has used it multiple times.

The side effects dissipate as the medication wears off.

Skill and education of the practitioner

The final point we’d like to make is that any practitioner who administers sedation must receive the proper training.

Experience and skill are also factors.

Dr. Wilkerson specializes in administering in-office treatments utilizing Nitrous Oxide.

The success of this procedure relies on the patient’s active participation in breathing through their nose to ensure the effective absorption of Nitrous Oxide for relaxation and calming effects.

In instances where patients may face challenges in cooperation due to age, ability, or severe anxiety, we opt for a more suitable approach by administering treatment under general anesthesia within a hospital setting.

Dr. Wilkerson conducts such hospital-based treatments on a weekly basis, providing comprehensive oral care with a focus on safety and achieving optimal outcomes.

The procedures are carried out at the Charleston Area Medical Center – Women’s and Children’s Division, the sole children’s hospital in Southern West Virginia.

Our commitment is to deliver high-quality and secure dental treatment to patients in this specialized healthcare environment.

Does sedation help with behavior management?

Does your child panic just from hearing the word “dentist?”

Maybe you’ve tried other pediatric dentists without being successful.

Fear-based reactions can hinder a child’s oral health, especially if you can’t get them into a dentist’s chair.

Child-safe sedation dentistry has the potential to change that.

How do I prepare my child to be sedated?

Father getting child ready to go to the dentist

Your child’s anxiety can be managed with some preparation.

Here are some helpful steps parents can take to prepare for a successful dental visit when sedation is needed.

Open communication: You may want to start by explaining to your child what will happen using terms that won’t frighten them.

Explain why it’s important, what to expect, and how sedation will help them feel calm and comfortable.

Create a familiarization plan: Helping your child become familiar with the dental office before can reduce stress.

If possible, schedule a visit to the dental office just to meet and talk with the staff and explore the office.

Establish a relaxing routine: On the day of the dental appointment, maintain a calm and reassuring atmosphere at home.

Stick to familiar routines and activities that help your child relax.

Encourage them to engage in things they enjoy to distract them from any pre-visit worries. Let them bring a favorite blanket or toy to the visit.

Follow pre-procedure instructions: Ensure you follow any instructions given by the dentist or their team.

We’ll provide specific guidelines about eating or drinking prior to sedation, such as avoiding foods one to two hours before the treatment.

Offer comfort and support: Reassure your child that you’ll be there with them throughout the entire process.

Provide comfort and support by holding their hand, having their favorite toy or blanket, and staying close by.

Your presence can be a source of immense comfort for an anxious child.

We recommend you bring a change of clothes and a clean pull-up or diaper.

Remember, maintaining a positive attitude and remaining calm yourself can significantly impact your child’s perception of the dental visit–helping make it a more successful and stress-free experience.

How should I care for my child after sedation?

If your child has laughing gas, the effects are extremely temporary, fading within minutes of the treatment.

They can return to their regular routine immediately after this sedation; no special care is necessary.

General anesthesia will require a bit of care afterward.

The effects of it can last between six and eight hours and cause the following:

  • Confusion
  • Fogginess
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleepiness

Before we let your child leave the hospital after general anesthesia, we monitor them carefully for any pulmonary or cardiovascular issues, which is standard procedure and extremely rare.

Once you have the okay to take your little one home, these risks are no longer a concern.

Monitor your child closely to avoid trips or falls that can be caused by fogginess or being drowsy.

They, however, can return home and sleep off the effects safely. As you can see, child sedation dentistry is safe, and we take every step possible to ensure that.

So, if your little one is struggling, needs a procedure, or would benefit from sedation, we hope this puts your fears to rest.

Contact us today to schedule a visit to see a whole new side of pediatric dentistry or discover what makes us different.


Children’s Dentistry is in Charleston, WV. That makes us near Dunbar, Rand, Coal Fork, Marmet, Pinch, Belle, Cross Lanes, and Chesapeake.

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