Welcome, Dr. Lauren Heisinger to the Where Smiles Grow Family. Click here to read more!

Specializing in dentistry for infants, children & adolescents.

What is Sedation Dentistry? The Guide for Parents

what is sedation dentistry

If your child feels anxious when visiting the dentist, sedation may be an effective option to consider for certain procedures.

Sedation dentistry involves using a medical-grade sedative to attempt to aid a patient with getting through a dental procedure. This can prove a useful option for children who need complex procedures or who are particularly anxious of undergoing dental treatment.

As a parent, we understand that you may have some initial concerns about sedation. In this guide, we hope to provide you with further insights about this type of dentistry so that you can make confident decisions regarding your child’s oral health.

When Is Sedation Dentistry Usually Recommended?

There are a few reasons why a pediatric dentist may recommend sedation. These can include:

Anxious Children

Some children may have a high level of anxiety when thinking about visiting the dentist. These feelings can be influenced by multiple causes, such as a fear of needles or past negative experiences.

Sedation can help a child relax and feel more comfortable during dental procedures. In turn, it may also provide them with a better patient experience.

Complicated Procedures

In some cases, children might need a more complex dental procedure. These can include treatments like tooth extractions or placing crowns. Oftentimes, these procedures can require a child to remain still for a long period of time.

Sedation can help to both minimize comfort and movement during the procedure. As a result, the dentist can complete the procedure more quickly and efficiently while your child remains calm and comfortable.

Extreme Teeth Sensitivity

Some children may have teeth that are more sensitive than others. This can make simple dental procedures, such as cleanings, very painful for them. Sedation can help to reduce a child’s sensitivity and make the experience more bearable.

Children with Special Needs

Some children with special needs may experience difficulty remaining still during a dental procedure. Additionally, they may struggle with sensory triggers in the office environment. With sedation, they can relax more easily and remain still for longer periods of time while receiving dental treatment.

What Types of Procedures Usually Require Sedation?

There is a wide range of dental procedures that may require sedation. These can include:

Tooth Extraction

Extraction involves applying pressure in different directions to remove a tooth from the mouth. This can be a more complex procedure, particularly if the tooth is impacted. The process can also cause discomfort for some patients even when fully numb without some kind of sedative or other sources of pain relief.


A dental crown functions as a “cap” designed to cover a damaged tooth to improve its appearance and strength.

Multiple Fillings

If a child has multiple cavities, they may need to undergo treatment to fill each one. This can be a time-consuming process, so sedation may be recommended to help your child remain comfortable during the procedure.

Types of Sedation at Where Smiles Grow

At Where Smiles Grow, we understand that each child is unique. As such, we offer several different types of sedation to meet the needs of each individual patient. These include:

Nitrous Oxide – In Office

Also commonly called “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a gas that is inhaled through a small mask placed over the nose. It helps to relax patients and can ease feelings of anxiety. The effects of nitrous oxide are short-lived, so your child will be able to go home and resume normal activities immediately after their dental appointment.

Oral Conscious Sedation – In Office

This type of sedation uses medication that is taken orally in pill form. The medication helps your child feel more relaxed during their dental procedure. It generally takes about 20-30 minutes to experience the full effects.

Intravenous Sedation – In Office

This form of sedation involves an anesthesiologist coming into the office and administering medications through an Intravenous line so that the patient is asleep and not moving.  This allows us to work quickly and effectively and is often used for patients who have more extensive treatment needs.

General Anesthesia in a Hospital Setting

For more severe procedures or patients that have pre-existing medical conditions that prevent them from being candidates for the aforementioned treatment options, a child may need to be sedated with general anesthesia. General anesthesia will induce deep sleep, and your child will not be able to remember the procedure when they wake up. At Where Smiles Grow, we only use age-appropriate doses of hospital-grade anesthesia.

Which Option is right for your child??

At Where Smiles Grow we will review all treatment options with you and your child to determine what if any of the above options are right for your child.  We do not believe that all children who have this many cavities should get this level of sedation.  Instead, we seek to tailor our recommendations to what your child needs and we think they will be able to sit through them successfully. 

Get Sedation Dentistry in Latham, Schodack, and Delmar, NY

At Where Smiles Grow, we offer sedation dentistry for pediatric patients from our three offices in Latham, Schodack, and Delmar, NY. During any procedure that requires sedation treatment, we prioritize your child’s safety and comfort with the utmost importance.

To schedule a new dental appointment for your child, contact us today at 518-785-3911.