As a parent, it's natural to want to ease your child's pain and discomfort. And while most children have a very positive experience at the dentist's office, some may get anxious. Others may be too young to sit still in the dentist's chair for a 15 or 20 minute procedure. How can you ensure your child receives the dental care he or she needs with as little discomfort as possible? Talk to your child's dentist about chloral hydrate sedation.
Chloral hydrate sedation is a form of oral sedation used primarily for young children and infants. The goal is to help your child become relaxed, even sleepy. Unlike with general anesthesia, your child remains conscious throughout the dental treatment.
A pediatric dentist (a dentist specially trained in the needs of children) can use chloral hydrate sedation to provide treatment to children with dental anxiety and those who can't sit still long enough to safely undergo needed care.
Small children and infants feel the effects of medicine more intensely than adults. While most forms of conscious sedation may leave an adult feeling relaxed but alert, chloral hydrate sedation may make a toddler or infant very sleepy. That's why constant monitoring of your child once he or she is sedated is a must. A device called a pulse oximeter can be placed on one of your child's fingers or toes to monitor his or her breathing and oxygen levels before, during and after the dental procedure.
Chloral hydrate is an unpleasant tasting, syrupy liquid. It is usually mixed with a clear liquid such as water or fruit juice to help your child keep it down. It may take several minutes for the sedative effect to kick in. Once it does, most children stay drowsy during the entire dental procedure. Some even fall asleep but can easily be woken up. Your pediatric dentist will continue to monitor your child's breathing and oxygen levels throughout the procedure and may occasionally wake your child up should he or she fall asleep.
Chloral hydrate sedation is considered relatively safe, provided it is administered in the dentist's office by a trained professional such as a pediatric dentist or anesthesiologist. Getting the dose just right is key: too little might not produce the desired effect and too much might present serious complications. Chloral hydrate sedation shouldn't be used in combination with other drugs or other forms of sedation dentistry such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
To avoid complications, talk to your pediatric dentist about any medical conditions or allergies your child has, as well as any medications your child is taking. Make sure you understand why the dentist is recommending chloral hydrate sedation and the risks involved. If your child is especially anxious or requires extensive dental treatments, other sedative techniques or general anesthesia may be preferred.
The more informed and prepared you are about oral sedation, the better the outcome will be for both you and your child. If you're looking for a kid dentist, we can help!
After the procedure, your child should be allowed to rest and recover while the dentist continues to monitor his or her breathing and oxygen levels. Your child should not leave the dentist's office until he or she is fully awake and alert.
Make sure your child is under constant supervision for the remainder of the day. Most children will remain drowsy and uncoordinated for several hours. Other possible side effects of chloral hydrate sedation include nausea and vomiting.