Jennifer Kirwan, DDS - Sedation

Nitrous Oxide

Children who are very young or have a high level of anxiety which interferes with the cooperation necessary for the dentist to perform treatment may require some level of sedation. In contrast to general anesthesia (which renders the child unconscious), dental sedation is only intended to reduce the child’s anxiety and discomfort during dental visits, while the child’s reflexes remain fully intact. Sedation maybe helpful for a patient with special needs to accept treatment only if they are willing to be open to the idea of receiving treatment.

Conscious sedation is an option for children who are older (three years and above) and are mildly apprehensive. This highly effective method can be administered in an inhalation method using nitrous oxide (N2O-O2). This is also referred to as “laughing gas” or “silly air”. Because nitrous oxide is a gas once all the nitrous is exhaled there are no lasting effects. Exhaling the nitrous is performed during the last 5 minutes of the procedure. Patient scheduled for nitrous are usually scheduled for morning appointments and should avoid heavy foods prior to appointment, reducing the risk of vomiting.

Deep sedation is sometimes necessary for children unable, by either age or maturity level, to cooperate during dental treatment. Our practice utilizes a team of certified pediatric anesthesiologists for cases where the patient will need deeper sedation. If patient is unable to be sedated in an office setting we schedule time to have the dental procedure completed at Children’s Mercy Medical Center. For more information about our team of pediatric anesthesiologists please click here.

Nitrous oxide sedation is most helpful for:
     • Children who require major treatment
     • A very anxious child
     • Children who have had a traumatic dental experience (sound, smell, taste aversion).
     • Children with a strong gag reflex
     • Children who are medically compromised or have special needs

In- office Sedation

Deep sedation is often necessary either by age or maturity level to cooperate during dental treatment. For the safety of your child our practice has a Mobile Anesthesia Care perform this type of anesthesia. These highly trained pediatric anesthesiologists administer anesthesia to only one patient at a time, closely monitoring vital signals as the dentist carries out the dental procedure. The anesthesiologist remains in the treatment room through the entire duration of the procedure.

Our patients and their families enjoy the efficiency of an in office general anesthesia over the alternative of a in hospital based appointment, cutting out hours of hospital wait time, and arriving to a comfortable close to home familiar environment.

For more information about our team of pediatric anesthesiologists and frequently asked questions please click here.

Out-Patient Sedation

Our practice works in partnership with Children’s Mercy hospital to provide outpatient surgery for specific cases. Dental treatment in these cases will be performed at either the Children’s Mercy main campus or South campus operating rooms. General anesthesia will be performed under the direction of a pediatric anesthesiologist and will be offered for patients who due to their compromised medical history may be at risk to have anesthesia performed outside a hospital settling.

Which patient benefit most from general anesthesia?

Children with a great deal of fear and anxiety, patients with special needs, or due to age or maturity are unable to cooperate with dental treatment in the office. Usually these patients require extensive dental work which if done in the office under simply local anesthesia may well put the patient’s mental and physical well-being at risk and jeopardize the quality of final work. This method allows the patient to complete treatment unconsciously in a comfortable, non-threatening and caring environment. 

Why should my child’s baby teeth be fixed? Won’t they just fall out?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when a patient is recommended to have deep sedation performed. Primary teeth will eventually fall out, though not as early as many people think. Front teeth will start to fall out at about age 6-8 years old, but your child’s molars will not come out until your child is 11 or 12 years old. For more information about dental eruption please click here- (link to dental eruption)