Is sedation safe for
a dental procedure?

What safe sedation options do I have for my child’s dental procedure?

Sedation is a scary thought for dental or any other procedure, especially in kids. That is the question everyone asks, "is sedation safe?" It’s the altering of someone’s mental state using medication(s) to help them relax for a more successful procedure. But, like any other medication, you can't be 100% sure that the patient’s body will respond exactly how you would expect them to. In other words, anything ranging from under sedation, to an all out anaphylactic allergic can technically occur. But, in the right hands with the experience and safety protocols put into place, dental sedation can be very safe.

However, keep in mind, especially in children who need significant dental treatment. The anxiety of undergoing a dental procedure for their cavities, can not only be detrimental to their psyche, but rapid and unpredictable jerky reactions often seen in a frantic child can lead to physical harm. Like what? The needle being used to numb them ends up poking their eye, or the bur that spins at 200k rounds per minute cutting their lip or tongue…etc. 

So, if an otherwise healthy child is acutely (meaning seriously) anxious and the extent of dental treatment warrants it, a thorough discussion with your pediatric dentist about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of dental sedation for your child’s procedure should take place.

For a child who has high anxiety, is sedation safe for a dental procedure? What can happen if the pediatric dentist does not use any sedation for your child? What are the dangers?

While I fully expect that a parent would be anxious with the thought of dental sedation, I highly encourage parents to ask and educate themselves about their options for their child’s dental procedure. Rarely is there only one option and no two options are the same when it comes to risk and benefits. 

is sedation safe for a dental procedure

Tips to make sure dental sedation is safe for your child’s dental procedure

    • Make sure your pediatric dentist is experienced and trained in dental sedation. 
    • Check if the office has all the required monitoring equipment to ensure their safety
    • Anyone working with your child should be certified in CPR
    • The pediatric dentist should ask if your child is taking any medications, vitamins, supplements etc...
    • Your pediatric dentist will measure the appropriate dosage based on your child’s health, age and weight
    • When your child is under dental sedation, the pediatric dentist and staff will monitor their vital signs, which include blood pressure, oxygen levels and heart rate. 
    • The dental office will have oxygen available should it be needed. 

Here’s an article by Dr Agarwal with more information on is sedation safe for a dental procedure.

To summarize, dental sedation is safe for the majority of patients. But it’s natural to worry and we encourage our parents to ask questions and to go over the different options for their kids sedation dental procedure. To learn more about the different options in dental sedation, see my notes here on kids sedation options.  

To schedule a dental check up for your child call (858)693-5677 or set up a Virtual Consultation with Dr. J  

Have a question about your child’s oral health that you would like to submit to #AskDrJ, click here to submit your question to Dr J

J. Shahangian


Dr. J is a board certified pediatric dentist and owner of Scripps Pediatric Dentistry & Brush n Brace, pediatric dental offices located in San Diego, CA. He is not only a Diplomat with the board but now also has Fellow status with the AAPD. He is a proud father of 3 beautiful girls, a San Diego native, loves soccer and is passionate about pediatric oral health. His mission is battling the number 1 disease that he has seen take over our beloved children. #AskDrJ provides answers and solutions to parents questions & concerns regarding their children's oral health. Click here for a full list of articles from #AskDrJ 

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