Childrens Dentistry in Evansville, Indiana  •  (812) 479 - 8609     Find us on Facebook Find us on Twitter Read our Blog

Dr. Jeff Hiester
Dr. Jeff Hiester
Meet the Doctor


Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry refers to the use of sedatives during dental treatment. The goal is to establish a relaxing and anxiety-free experience during the dental treatment. There are different types of sedation, and our office provides those alternatives to you based on your child’s level of anxiety and/or treatment needs.

Sedation can range from the use of nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” used to calm a patient to general anesthetics used to put patients to sleep. We will evaluate your child individually and make the appropriate recommendation for a safe and effective option. Your participation in regards to any type of sedation is crucial to our success.

Sedation is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association. It is an effective way to make many patients comfortable during their dental visit. Before choosing a type of sedation, it is important to tell your dentist about any medications or medical treatments your child is receiving.

Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

One of the major benefits of sedation dentistry is that people often feel like their dental procedure lasts only a few minutes. Most young children are unable to understand and tolerate the experience of having a dental treatment completed. Multiple office visits can also elicit stress and anxiety in young children. Sedation can be used as an adjunct to complete the necessary dental treatment safely and efficiently.

Types of Sedation

Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)

Nitrous oxide is used as a conscious sedative during dental visits. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. Since it is a mild sedative, patients are still conscious and can talk to their dentist throughout the appointment. Your child may giggle or tell stories; occasionally a child will fall asleep. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is given through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child’s nose. After treatment is completed, the gas is turned off. The effects wear off almost immediately. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects. It is non-addictive. Some patients may experience nausea and/or constipation and our office recommends not giving your child a big meal before their appointment.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation is recommended for apprehensive children, very young children, and children with special needs. The technique is easy and requires your child to drink the chosen medication. Various medications can be used to sedate a child. The medications are selected based on your child’s overall health, level of anxiety and amount of dental treatment. Once the medications have been administered, it may take up to an hour before your child shows signs of sedation and is ready for treatment. Most children become relaxed and/or drowsy. They may drift into a light sleep from which they can be aroused easily. Unlike general anesthesia, oral sedation is not intended to make a patient unconscious or unresponsive.

In rare cases, some children may not experience relaxation but an opposite reaction such as agitation or crying. Restraint may be necessary for the very young or apprehensive patients. We cannot allow our patients to harm themselves during treatment and restraint may be used for protection from injury from sudden movements while performing treatment.

Remember that as a parent/legal guardian, you play a key role in your child’s dental care. Children often perceive a parent’s anxiety which makes them more fearful. Children tolerate procedures best when their parents understand what to expect and prepare them for the experience. If you ever have any questions about the sedation process, please ask. As you become more confident, so will your child.

Prior to the appointment:

  • Do not give your child any medication before the appointment which may combine with the sedative without checking with our office first.
  • Please notify us of any change in your child’s health and/or medical condition. Should your child become ill, contact us to see if it is necessary to postpone the appointment.
  • You must tell the doctor of any drugs that your child is currently taking (prescribed, over-the-counter, or herbal medications) and any drug reactions and/or change in medical history.
  • Please dress your child in loose fitting, comfortable clothing. This will allow us to lace monitors that evaluate your child’s response to the medications and help ensure your child’s safety.
  • Please make sure that your child goes to the bathroom immediately prior to arriving at the office.
  • Your child should not have solid food for at least 6 hours prior to their sedation appointment and only clear liquids for up to 4 hours before the appointment.
  • The child’s parent or legal guardian must remain at the office during the complete procedure.
  • Please watch your child closely while the medication is taking effect. Hold them in your lap or keep close to you. Do not let them "run around."
  • Your child will act drowsy and may become slightly excited at first.

After the sedation appointment:

  • Your child will be drowsy and will need to be monitored very closely. Once home, your child will still be drowsy and must remain under adult supervision until fully recovered from the effects of the sedation. Keep your child away from areas of potential harm.
  • We recommend trying to keep your child awake for a couple of hours. If your child wants to sleep, position your child on his/her side with the head supported and the chin up. During this period, check your child’s breathing and airway every 3-5 minutes. If your child is snoring, reposition the head until the snoring disappears and your child breathes normally. If breathing becomes abnormal or you are unable to arouse your child, contact emergency services call 911 immediately.
  • Nausea and vomiting are occasional side effects of sedation. If your child vomits, help them bend over and turn their head to the side to insure that they do not inhale the vomit.
  • In addition to the sedative medications, we often use local anesthetic to numb the mouth during dental treatment. The numbness usually lasts 2-4 hours. Watch to see that your child does not bite, scratch, or injure the cheek, lips, or tongue during this time.
  • PLEASE DO NOT PLAN TO RETURN YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL. Restrict activities for the remainder of the day. Prohibit potentially harmful activities such as bike riding, swimming, using playground equipment, or any activity where balance is important.
  • Children may be irritable after treatment. If this occurs, stay with your child and provide a calm environment. If you believe the irritability is caused by discomfort, you may give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®). Follow the instructions on the bottle for dosing based upon your child’s age/weight.
  • A slight fever (temperature to 100.5°F) is not uncommon after sedation. You may give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®). Follow the instructions on the bottle for dosing based upon your child’s age/weight. Because dehydration may cause a slight increase in temperature, clear fluids may help correct this condition. If a higher fever develops or the fever persists, call our office.