Calming an Anxious Child


Table Of Contents

As Pediatric dentists, Dr. Laura and Dr. Susie have special training in helping anxious children feel secure during dental treatment. For example, in the “Tell-Show-Do” technique, we might name a dental instrument, demonstrate the instrument by using it to count your child´s fingers, and then use it to count their teeth. Praise, coaching, distraction, and parent participation are other ways to make your child feel comfortable in the dental office.

Our office is designed for children and our staff choose to work in a pediatric dental practice because they love children!

Nitrous oxide

Many children are calm and comfortable in a pediatric dental office. Sometimes, however, a child may need more than a gentle, caring manner to feel comfortable. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a safe and effective technique to help your child get through a dental visit.

What is nitrous oxide/oxygen?

Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. When inhaled, it is has a calming effect. Normal breathing eliminates nitrous oxide/oxygen from the body. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry. It is mild, easily taken, and then quickly eliminated by the body. When used in dentistry, your child remains fully conscious and keeps all natural reflexes when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen.

How will my child feel when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen?

Your child will smell a sweet, pleasant aroma and experience a sense of relaxation. If your child is worried by the sights, sounds, or sensations of dental treatment they may respond more positively with the use of nitrous oxide/oxygen.

Will nitrous oxide/oxygen work for all children?

Our team knows that all children are not alike! Every service is tailored to your child as an individual. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is not effective for some children, especially those who have severe anxiety, nasal congestion, extensive treatment needs, or discomfort wearing a nasal mask. Pediatric dentists have comprehensive specialty training and can offer other sedation methods that are right for your child, if needed. Talk with the Dr. Laura to determine the best approach for comfort management during your child’s dental treatment.

Conscious sedation

What is conscious sedation?

Conscious sedation is a technique to guide a child’s behavior during dental treatment. This method of sedation dentistry for children is used to help increase cooperation and to reduce anxiety or discomfort associated with dental procedures. Sedative medications cause most children to become relaxed and drowsy. Unlike general anesthesia, sedation is not intended to make a patient unconscious or unresponsive. Sedation can be used safely and effectively when administered by a pediatric dentist who follows the sedation guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. If needed, Dr, Laura will discuss sedation options and patient monitoring for the safety and comfort of your child.

What special instruction should I follow before the sedation appointment?

Children often perceive a parent’s anxiety, which makes them more fearful. They tolerate procedures best when a child’s parents understand what to expect. If you have any questions about the sedation process, please ask. As you become more confident, so will your child. Should your child become ill, contact us to see if it is necessary to postpone the appointment. It is important to tell us about any prescribed, over-the-counter or herbal medications your child is taking. We will provide you with additional detailed instructions before your sedation visit. It is very important to follow the directions regarding fasting from fluids and foods prior to the sedation appointment.

What special instructions should I follow after the sedation appointment?

After a sedation appointment, we will evaluate your child’s status and discharge your child when he/she is responsive, stable and ready to go. Children recover from the effects of sedatives at different rates so be prepared to remain at the office until the after-effects are minimal. Once home, your child must remain under adult supervision until fully recovered from the effects of the sedation. We will discuss specific post-sedation instructions with you, including appropriate diet and physical activity.

IV Sedation

Children who have extensive treatment needs, are very young, or those who have a high level of anxiety that interferes with the cooperation necessary to perform treatment, may require some level of sedation. There are many safe and effective drugs available today that can help relax the child and promote a good environment for optimal and safe dental treatment.

IV sedation is sometimes necessary for children that are unable, by either age or maturity level, to cooperate during dental treatment. Dr. Dennis Stone, a board-certified M.D. Anesthesiologist, provides IV Sedation in our office and monitors your child throughout the procedure and during recovery.

IV Sedation Dentistry is most helpful for:

  • Infants/ young children
  • Children who require major treatment
  • The very anxious child
  • Children that have had traumatic dental experiences
  • Children with a strong gag reflex

For more information on IV sedation and Dr. Stone, please visit:

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