Dealing with the behavior of young, immature and sometimes frightened children as well as children with special health care needs is an area that is unique to pediatric dentistry. It requires a knowledge of child psychology, pharmacology and child development mixed with patience and understanding. Our goal is to treat the child in the safest, least invasive manner possible. We make every attempt to use our best judgment in determining which children will need sedation.
Our decisions on how to treat a child are dictated by what is in the best interest of the child. Our goal is to facilitate a pleasant experience that does not cause your child a lifetime of fearing the dentist. We want to make the dental experience easy for them first, and then as easy as possible for you and us.
Pediatric dentists are trained in many methods to help children feel comfortable with dental treatment. For example, in the "Tell-Show-Do" technique, a pediatric dentist might name a dental instrument, demonstrate the instrument by using it to count your child's fingers, and then use the instrument in treatment. The modeling technique pairs a timid child in dental treatment with a cooperative child of similar age. Coaching, distraction, and good old TLC are other possibilities to give your child confidence in dentistry. But by far the most preferred technique is praise. Every child does something right during a dental visit, and pediatric dentists let children know that.
When non-pharmacological techniques are not successful, we may use different types of sedation to make your child feel comfortable during treatment. The choice of sedation is based on the child's overall health, level of anxiety, and dental treatment recommendations.
TYPES OF SEDATION
For children with mild anxiety, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is a safe and proven method to help kids feel more comfortable. The child will breathe the nitrous oxide with the use of a "pilot mask". Your child will be asked to breathe through the nose and will sense a faint, sweet smell. Your child will be awake for the entire procedure and may have a "happy" feeling.
If your child has moderate anxiety, oral sedation may be used. It is taken by the mouth, usually in a syrup form, and the medicine usually begins to work within 20 mintues. Your child will take the medicine upon arrival at the appointment. He or she should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before the appointment. During the whole procedure, your child is sedated but is still able to maintain his or her airway.
Some children are unable to tolerate dental restorative procedures while awake. Young age, high anxiety, special needs or extensive dental decay are the reasons for a child to be treated with general anesthesia. Your child will be treated and monitored by a board certified Anesthesiologist to ensure utmost safety and comfort while the recommended dental procedure is done either in-office or in a hospital setting. Dr. Amante has hospital privileges at Culpeper Hospital, Inova Fair Oaks Hospital and Inova Loudon Hospital.