It is not unusual for children to become anxious when visiting the pediatric dentist. Children may exhibit mild to moderate anxious behavior during routine checkups and cleanings; however, they may be more likely to become extremely anxious when facing tooth extractions. Fortunately, there are a number of effective interventions the dental staff can employ to help keep the pediatric patient calm and cooperative. Here are some ways the pediatric dentist can manage anxiety before, during, and after tooth extractions.
Before your child undergoes a tooth extraction, the pediatric dentist will need to inject the gum tissue with a local anesthetic so that the child will not be able to feel any sensations while he or she is having a tooth pulled. While the injection is not particularly painful, it can sting a bit when the needle from the syringe has pierced the gum.
To reduce this sensation, the dentist can first numb the area with an anesthetic gel, so that the young patient is less likely to feel the injection. Anesthetic gels are considered very safe to use in dental settings because the risks for side effects are low. The anesthetic gel your child's dentist uses is similar to the products used to relieve teething pain in babies.
Your child's dentist may recommend sedation prior to the extraction. Sedation is especially helpful for very anxious children who are unable to remain still during the procedure. Excessive activities such as constant fidgeting in the dental chair can pose challenges during tooth extractions.
The dentist will determine which type of dental sedation is best suited to your child based on his or her needs, weight, preexisting medical conditions, and current medications that the patient may be taking. Nitrous oxide, which is also known as "laughing gas," is a common type of sedation used in dentistry. It relaxes anxious children and it can be used alone or in combination with another type of sedation such as oral antianxiety medications.
Another type of sedation is intravenous sedation, or IV sedation. Otherwise known as "twilight sleep," IV sedation allows the child to remain conscious; however, he or she will be very drowsy and will not remember anything about the procedure.
Talk to the pediatric dentist about the different types of available treatment options that can be used to manage your child's anxiety before and during a tooth extraction. Once effective antianxiety interventions are implemented, the anxious child is more likely to have a more positive experience when undergoing extractions.