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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of procedures and invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about this medication, its possible use for your child’s dental procedure, and how you can help.
Sedation dentistry is the use of a mild sedative (calming drugs) to manage special needs or anxiety while your child receives dental care. Sedation also may be used when several procedures need to be done at the same time, when the safety of a child may be compromised, or if your child has a strong “gag” reflex. Your child’s dentist will give the sedation.
It is important to note that the sedation medication does not control pain or discomfort. Once your child has received sedation, the dentist will give him or her an injection (shot) or injections in the treatment area to keep it pain-free during and after the procedure. The sedation medicine may last up to 6 hours after the treatment is done.
Often called “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a very safe, mild sedative that will help your child remain relaxed during dental procedures. Your child’s dentist will give the sedation with the use of a “space mask,” which carries air (oxygen) mixed with the medication. Your child will be asked to breathe through the nose, not the mouth, and will sense a faint, sweet smell. The sedation will take effect in about 5 minutes. The mask will remain in place until the procedure is done. Your child will be awake during the entire procedure and may have a “happy” feeling. When the procedure is complete, the nitrous oxide will be turned off and your child will breathe in pure oxygen for about 5 minutes to clear out any remaining gas. You should limit your child to a very light meal before this procedure, such as toast or a bagel.
If your child is nervous, oral sedation may be used. It is taken by mouth or through the nose. This type of medicine will make your child a little drowsy, and will keep him or her relaxed and calm during the procedure. The medicine usually begins to work within 20 minutes. Your dentist will have your child take the medicine once you arrive at the appointment. If your child is having sedation, he or she should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before the appointment.
Intravenous (IV) sedation requires a needle to be inserted into your child’s vein, usually in the arm or hand. The biggest advantage to IV sedation is that the dentist can give your child more medicine during a longer procedure to keep him or her relaxed. Home preparation is required for this type of sedation.
When sedation is needed, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the procedure. One business day before your child’s procedure, you will receive a phone call from the Dental Clinic. Calls are not made on weekends or holidays. Please have a pen and paper ready to write down these important instructions.
You will get specific eating and drinking instructions for your child based on your child’s age. Following are the usual instructions for eating and drinking. No matter what age your child is, you should follow the specific instructions given to you on the phone.
For infants under 12 months:
For all children:
Once your child has been registered for the procedure, a member of the dental staff will meet with you to take your child’s vital signs, weight, and medical history. As the parent or legal guardian, you will be asked to sign a consent form before the sedation is given.
As a parent, watching your child undergo sedation may be a very uncomfortable experience for you. Children can sense a parent’s concern — so for your presence to be helpful to your child, you must try to be as calm and encouraging as possible.
There are ways you can help your child, even if you feel uncomfortable.
If your child’s gums are sore, Tylenol® or Motrin® will help with any discomfort. If your child experiences any of the following for more than 24 hours, you should call your dentist:
If your child has any of these symptoms, call the Dental Clinic at 412-692-5440 immediately. If you are calling during the evening or on a weekend, please call the hospital at 412-692-5325 and ask for the dental resident on call.
If your child has any special needs or health issues that you feel the dentist and anesthesiologist need to know about, please call Children’s Dental Clinic at 412-692-5440 before the procedure. If your child has developed a cold, stuffy nose, or other condition that makes it hard to breathe through the nose, you will need to call your dentist and your child’s procedure will have to be rescheduled. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs your child might have.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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