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How Can My Anxious Child Get the Dental Care They Need?

Even adults can get anxious to see the dentist, so it’s no surprise many children are hesitant to stop by the office and sit through an appointment due to dental anxiety. Additionally, the child needs to lie still during certain procedures, which is all but impossible when the child is very young or anxious.

Luckily, there are several types of sedation options available to make sure the child can get through these procedures without pain, discomfort, or otherwise bad experiences that will make them even more afraid of the Mission Viejo pediatric dentist.

What to Expect During the Consultation

Once the dentist takes a look at your child’s tooth and sets the treatment, they will discuss with you at length about the sedation options. This is chosen based on the child’s health, as well as the specific procedures.

Our dentists will provide you with all the information about the sedation, so you’ll be completely aware of what the process will entail. Additionally, our team is specifically trained to provide sedation to children.

Explore Your Child’s Sedation Options

Laughing Gas or Minimally Inhaled Sedation

The child inhales some nitrous oxide with oxygen, which will relax them and make them a bit giggly. This is why the gas is commonly called ‘laughing gas’ or conscious sedation. It’s a minor form of oral sedation appropriate for some more lighthearted treatments.

General Anesthesia

We do all of our general anesthesia procedures at a fully accredited surgery center – Mobisurg – and we use pediatric trained medical anesthesiologist for all procedures.

Common Questions About Sedation

Understanding how sedation affects your child


Yes, dental sedation will induce your child into a relaxed state. If they experience stress or anxiety when going to the dentist, sedation will melt away these negative feelings and replace them with a sense of calm during conscious sedation.

Laughing gas can also make children feel euphoric, giddy, and sleepy. However, they will remain awake and aware of their surroundings. They can respond to the dentist during the appointment but they will not be frightened.

For more complex or invasive procedures, your child can be put under general anesthetic, where they are totally unconscious. This means they won’t be aware of anything that is going on during the appointment because they will be asleep.


To prepare your child for minimally inhaled sedation, you only need to make sure that they fast for 2 hours leading up to their appointment. Try giving them a light breakfast such as toast and keep them hydrated.

Then, for two hours before the appointment, make sure they don’t eat or drink anything. This is to prevent the risk of nausea and vomiting. To prepare your child for general anesthesia, they will need to fast for 6 hours.

This is why these appointments are generally best scheduled for first thing in the morning. Because anesthesia causes lingering hangover effects for up to 24 hours, you will need to monitor your child for the rest of the day.

They may need help getting around the house. You should bring things to them so they don’t have to get up too much. They will likely feel very drowsy and want to rest when they get home.


This depends on the procedure and type of sedation that your child is receiving. You may be able to accompany your child during a minimally inhaled sedation procedure, especially if it’s a routine appointment like a dental cleaning.

However, if your child is receiving general anesthesia for an invasive procedure, this needs to be performed in the hospital by a certified anesthesiologist. You will not be permitted in the room during the procedure, especially if it’s a surgical procedure.

Don’t worry, your child’s vitals will be monitored the entire time and a breathing tube will assist with their breathing while they are unconscious. Your child’s vitals are also monitored during conscious sedation so we can ensure their heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels remain at safe and healthy levels.

If you have any questions about whether or not you can be in the room with your child during their appointment, please contact us at South OC Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics by calling (949) 581 5800.

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