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Rewinding the Years: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults


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Rewinding the Years: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults

Once my children were grown and on their own, I decided it was time to care of me. One of the first things I did was make an appointment with the dentist. I quickly discovered that years of not keeping up with my own dental care had taken a heavy toll on my teeth. Whereas I thought my teeth were just fine, the dentist pointed out several problems that were going to require a lot of work. When talking to friends, I found out that many of them were in the same boat. This blog is for people like me who just did not have time to keep up with their own dental care.

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Sedation Dentistry And Your Child

Your child doesn't understand the importance of being still while having major dental work done. Your pediatric dentist offers several options to sedate your child so the procedure can be completed quickly and effectively. Current anesthetic practices are safe for your child and make this dental work possible. Talk with your dentist about these four types of sedation and what is best for your child.

Nitrous Oxide

Also known as "laughing gas", this substance is mixed with oxygen and given to your child in a breathing mask worn during the dental work. The gas relaxes your child quickly but does not cause them to fall asleep. The dentist can adjust the gas volume so your child is comfortable throughout the procedure. The gas does not stay in the child's body after the mask is removed.

Oral Conscious Sedation

If your child is very anxious about the procedure or has special needs, this type of sedation will calm them down more than nitrous oxide. It will make them drowsy but they will still be conscious during the visit. This is given in a pill or liquid form. You will be instructed to give it to your child before the appointment because it takes longer to work than the nitrous oxide. Your child will likely fall asleep but they are easy to wake up. After the appointment, the staff will give you instructions on how to watch your child while they fully awaken.

Intravenous Conscious Sedation

With this type of sedation, an IV is inserted into a vein and the anesthetic is released into the blood stream. This is used when a high-level of relaxation is needed and often includes the injection of pain medication at the same time. A small number of dentists are trained in this type of sedation. Vital signs, such as heart rate and breathing, must constantly be monitored to ensure that the dose of anesthetic is correct for your child. When the procedure is finished, the IV is removed and your child will wake up quickly. While more involved, this type of sedation can still be done in the dentist's office.

General Anesthesia

For the child who is very agitated or combative, and who needs to be restrained during the procedure, general anesthesia may be the only option. This is administered in a hospital by a trained anesthesiologist. Your child will be unconscious during the procedure and will need to spend time in the recovery room afterwards. An overnight stay is likely to make sure there are no side effects from the anesthesia.

When your child has to have dental work done, you have several options to help them get through the procedure. Discuss with your dentist which technique has the least risks and side effects, yet lets the dentist complete the procedure effectively.