Patients with Down syndrome may have difficulties going to the dentist. It can be an overwhelming experience, causing them to become too anxious to receive the dental care that they need. In these cases, dental sedation may be beneficial.
As a dentist working with families for over 17 years, I’ve used sedation methods in my own practice. While dental sedation can be a safe way for your loved one to receive dental care, there are a few things to know before you decide on this option. I encourage you to have a conversation with your dentist on deciding if sedation is the safest method and to discuss alternatives as well.
1. Different Types of Sedation
There are three common types of sedation methods that your dentist may use and they will advise you on which method will work best based on the type of care that’s needed.
The methods include:
- Nitrous Oxide: This medicine is inhaled through a nose mask. It’s recommended that this method is used on patients who are older than five as they must keep breathing throughout the appointment. In some cases, a patient will not respond to nitrous oxide and another method may need to be used.
- Conscious Sedation: This method involves the use of sedatives to produce a calm, sleepy state without losing consciousness. The sedative is given as a pill or liquid one hour prior to the procedure.
- General Anesthesia: General Anesthesia involves the loss of consciousness and is usually a last resort for those who don’t respond to the first two options. It needs to be administered in a hospital or fully equipped healthcare center.
A patient with Down Syndrome may respond in a wide variety of ways to sedation and there can be serious side effects. One way to know if dental sedation will be the safest option for your child is to get a screening to rule out respiratory issues and any medical contradictions.
2. Conflicting Medical Conditions
If your child suffers from other medical conditions, you will have to take extra precautions to make sure that dental sedation is the safest option. Sometimes dental sedation can conflict with other medical conditions, and in these cases, it’s best to find another method for dental care. The last thing you want is to have your child experience a medical emergency because of a conflicting condition.
Talk to your dentist about any medical conditions that your loved one has to ensure that dental sedation will be the safest option. If sedation is not going to possible, be sure to discuss other methods of care with your dentist. Your dentist is committed to the safety of his/her patients and will be willing to work with you and your child.
3. Preparing for The Appointment
Once you and your dentist have chosen a sedation method, the next step is to prepare for the appointment. A few days or weeks before the appointment, start introducing your loved one to what the process is like. You can do this with visuals such as videos or storybooks. You can even explain any good experiences you’ve had at the dentist to help them feel more comfortable.
If your loved one is anxious on the day of their appointment, the best thing you can do is stay positive and encouraging. If your child takes regular medications, be sure to let your dentist know ahead of time to make sure these medications won’t interfere with the sedation medications.
Your Dentist is There to Help You & Your Loved One
Dental sedation can be a safe way for your loved one to receive the dental care that they need, especially if they get easily overwhelmed by the sensory elements at the dentist. However, for some patients, dental sedation may not be possible, and you will have to work with your dentist to find a way for your loved one to receive the care they need. Talk with your dental care provider about what’s the safest option, and always keep your child’s overall health in mind.