Pain and Anxiety Management in Pediatric Dentistry

Pain and Anxiety Management in Pediatric Dentistry

February 3, 2021

The thought of pain automatically causes anxiety. Pain may be defined as a direct response to stimuli that have taken place. Anxiety is the dread that something might go wrong. These are natural psychological and physiological responses in humans.

The fear of pain during and after treatment might trigger anxiety in dental patients. Anxiety may also be caused by past distressing dental experiences or other people’s influence. An older sibling who had a negative experience at the dentist may cause the child who has not been to the dentist to fear and become anxious. This eventually leads to avoidance of dentists resulting in teeth loss, teeth decay, and poor periodontal status.

It is important to remember that good oral health goes a long way in shaping an individual’s personality. Therefore, taking a child to a dentist that will offer them a positive experience is essential. The dentist will focus on alleviating fear and anxiety in the patient to motivate them on a long-term basis positively.

Methods of Managing Pain and Anxiety

Ensuring that a child has operative care devoid of pain is the best way of managing dental anxiety. It sets the pace for future dental visits. Below are different methods of managing pain and anxiety.

The Use of Analgesics

An analgesic is any medicine that reduces pain without inducing unconsciousness in the patient. Oral conditions such as ulcers, pulpitis, and teething may cause children to be in pain. This pain can be relieved by oral analgesics like paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Analgesics can be used a day or more before extracting carious teeth, during extraction under general anesthesia, and postoperatively after surgery. Most analgesics are administered by mouth and are available in liquid or tablet forms. This favors the child as injections are a source of pain and anxiety for most children.

Pharmacological Management

Pharmacological management is focused on behavior management. The dentistry team performs the treatment on the child effectively and efficiently, instilling a positive dental attitude. It is the best method for children without psychological or emotional maturity or mentally, physically, or emotionally disabled. This method of pain and anxiety management is generally divided into general anesthesia and various levels of sedation.

General anesthesia

Here, the child is put on drug-induced unconsciousness. They cannot be woken up even by the painful and repeated stimulation during treatment. General anesthesia is recommended for fearful and anxious children, especially when extensive dental work is required.

  • Sedation dentistry

There are different types of dental sedation used to calm a patient before and during dental procedures. These are:

  • Conscious sedation

The patient is under a minimally depressed level of consciousness. The child can maintain the airway on their own and is responsive to physical stimulation or verbal instructions. A type of conscious sedation is Oral Sedation, whereby the patient takes pills before the procedure to alleviate anxiety and pain. The patient remains awake but relaxed and remembers little or nothing of the procedure. Future visits to the dentist do not become a source of anxiety for the child.

  • Minimal sedation

The child is in a drug-induced state but can typically respond to verbal commands. Laughing gas is used in minimal sedation and is administered through the nose the patient breathes in. It is offered to anxious children to help them accept treatment since it makes them relaxed and less nervous.

  • Deep sedation

A patient is put on drug-induced depressed consciousness during the dental operation. This means that they are between a conscious and unconscious state. The child feels no pain while being treated. A type of deep sedation is IV Sedation. A drug is administered through an IV line in the child’s hand or arm to put the child to sleep. General anesthesia is a type of Deep Sedation.

Sedation dentistry goes a long way in maintaining good oral health in children. It is a common and safe practice whereby the side effects are manageable and wear off by themselves. Deep Sedation in Houston is offered at Greenway Pediatric Dentistry.

At our office, we engage young patients and show them that a visit to the dentist can be pain and anxiety-free. The professional dentists closely monitor the child during Deep Sedation and general anesthetic procedures.

Armed with this invaluable knowledge on pain and anxiety management, you can confidently make an appointment for deep sedation near our offices in 77098. Visit us for services in pediatric dentistry, including orthodontics, preventive dentistry, and esthetic treatments.