The following ways to either reduce anxiety and/or eliminate it altogether are offered at our practice. Age, cooperation level, dental treatment needs are just some of the factors that our board-certified pediatric dentists look at when determining the best course of action. Of course, the parent knows their child the best so we always welcome their input. However, options can be limited based on patient’s medical history, treatment needs, age among other factors.
Nitrous Oxide (“Laughing Gas”)
Although mentioned under our Sedation Dentistry section, nitrous oxide is simply a relaxation gas and does not sedate a patient. Is is extremely safe and is used frequently in our practice. We recommend using nitrous oxide during treatment appointments, especially for the younger and/or anxious patients. It is breathed in and out through the nose and is used primarily for relaxing a nervous patient. A lighter meal or an empty stomach is generally recommended beforehand. Patients are fully awake and conscious during the treatment. 100% oxygen is administered at the end of the appointment, causing the nitrous gas to exit the patient’s system. There are no lingering effects and patients can return to school, daycare or other activities after their dental appointment as long as the dental treatment itself allows it.
Occasionally a child who is fearful or anxious due to young age and has limited treatment needs will be recommended for conscious (oral) sedation. Oral Sedation involves your child coming to the office on an empty stomach and drinking sedative medications to reach a level of drowsiness where he or she will allow dental treatment with more cooperation. However, keep in mind that every child’s cooperation level varies since only a certain amount of medication can be given based on weight and other factors play a role in reducing a child’s anxiety. Special informed consent and instructions are necessary for these appointments.
General Anesthesia (at Rady Children’s Hospital)
Both Dr. Pokala and Dr. Chawla are members of the medical staff at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego. Thus, they are able to treat patients for their dental needs under general anesthesia administered by a medical anesthesiologist. This is a great option for young children with extensive dental needs, those who are extremely apprehensive and children with certain medical conditions and/or developmental disabilities. General anesthesia in the operating room setting provides a safe and controlled environment to complete comprehensive dental care without the patient having any memory of it. This option also includes specific informed consent and instructions.
In-Office Deep Sedation
Lastly, we have an option to have an anesthesiologist come to our office to provide anesthesia so that your child is asleep during dental treatment. This option works well for young and/or apprehensive children. It allows us to provide comprehensive dental treatment under the care of an anesthesiologist without the patient having any memory of it. This option also includes specific informed consent and instructions.