Kids: To Sedate or Not to Sedate? Part 1

As a Parent and as a Dentist I see all types of kids. Fortunately most of the kids I see are very cooperative and enjoy their experience at the dentist. Many kids come through our office and get the care they need such as fillings and routine cleanings without much issues and they always love the prize they get for being a great patient. Believe it or not, in this day and age, many kids actually enjoy going to the dentist as we work very hard to make their visit with us enjoyable.?However, every once in awhile, we get patients that just do not want to cooperate. You hear them crying down the hallway before they make it to the office. They refuse to open their mouth. They’re scared of every little thing. They start to cry if you look in their direction. They don’t want anyone touching them, especially their mouth (which can be so bad sometimes that they won’t even let their parents help brush their teeth). They can’t sit remotely still for any length of time. The thought of getting a needle absolutely terrifies them. They start crying even if it’s just a finger in their mouth. They may have things they can’t control such as a severe gag reflex. This can occur at any age. I have seen fully grown teenagers and some adults with very similar issues.

Whatever the reason may be, in these situations it becomes extremely difficult to treat the patient. The danger lies in that in order to treat your teeth, it requires the dentists and hygienists to use instruments in your mouth and if you are moving around and are not still, injuries can occur. It puts the patient at risk of injury as well as the dental assistant and the dentist. It’s not a safe environment. You wouldn’t want a mechanic working on your car if it was in motion down the highway weaving in and out of traffic. A veterinarian wouldn’t dare clean your dogs teeth with instruments without sedation as it puts everyone in danger, the doctor, their assistant, and of course your pet. Just like you wouldn’t want your chiropractor adjusting you while you are running, it is not wise for anyone working anywhere near your mouth if you are unable to, or refuse to stay still.

An uncooperative child is a tough nut to crack. As a dentist, we certainly do not want to traumatize your child. When your child acts out and refuses to cooperate, then it comes down to do we force them to cooperate, which would likely be traumatic to everyone involved (the child, the parents, the doctor and their staff), or do we sedate them? In the coming months we’ll talk about the kids who absolutely need to be sedated and the types of sedation that are available and things we can do at the office to minimize the anxiety associated with the appointment.

If you think you or your child might need sedation feel free to come in for a consultation to review your options are please ask about your options at your next visit.

– Dr. Chai 905-775-5307


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