Sedation Use in Treating Children

A dentist may recommend sedation for your child's dental treatment due to:

  • The age of the child – very young children have difficulty cooperating with treatment.
  • Length of procedure – young children may not be able to sit still long enough to safely perform the procedure
  • Invasiveness of the treatment required.
  • Complexity of the required procedure such as correction of a cleft lip or palate.

Sedating a child for dental treatment allows the child to be treated in a less anxious state. Children usually do not remember the details for the procedures which can help them to come back for further treatments and also to avoid the fear factor that can lead to dental phobias in adults. 

What type of sedation is available for children?

Children may receive dental treatment under various levels of sedation up to general anesthesia. Sedation provides a stress-free experience for the child and enables the dental team to deliver care safely and efficiently.

Very young children may require treatment in hospital. Speak to your dentist about your child's needs.

Are there any specific concerns for children?

Dentists are required to meet specific requirements for the safe use of sedation in children including the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Guidelines for Monitoring and Management of Pediatric Patients During and After Sedation for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures, as well as College of Dental Surgeons of BC Minimal and Moderate Sedation services in Dentistry (Non-Hospital Facilities) Standards.

  • Talk to your dentist about the sedation options available for your child and for the dental treatment recommended.
  • Remember to accurately follow any pre- and post-treatment instructions.
  • Provide your dentist with a complete medical history of your child including any recent concerns or changes to their health.
Refer to discussions with your dentist for a detailed list of questions to ask.

Review a list of frequently asked questions on sedation and general anesthesia.