Paediatric dentists offer a wide range of treatments tailored to the dental needs of children. Their specialised training prepares them to handle preventative measures and more intensive treatments. The services and treatments provided by paediatric dentists include:
Management of Dental Anxiety in Children
Two common methods to manage dental anxiety and ensure a painless experience for children are the use of laughing gas (relaxation) and general anaesthesia (full sleep).
Relaxation with Happy Gas
Happy Gas (or laughing gas), is a tool often employed by paediatric dentists to create a more comforting and relaxed environment for children during dental treatments. This mild sedative is particularly useful for alleviating minor dental anxieties in children. When used, laughing gas is combined with oxygen, allowing the child to inhale the mixture through a small mask placed over their nose. It's important to understand that the mask's fit is important for the delivery of the happy gas and the effectiveness of the treatment.
Generally, Happy Gas is recommended for children aged three and above. This age consideration stems from the fact that younger children might not have a nasal structure suitable for the mask, leading to an improper fit. Additionally, very young children might find the mask intimidating or may not be able to breathe consistently through their nose, which is essential for the gas's effectiveness. If a child is under three or has heightened anxiety, other options, like sleep dentistry, might be more appropriate and effective.
Full Sleep with General Anaesthesia
Sleep dentistry is often chosen for very young children who might not cooperate with standard treatment methods. It's also used when children need to remain still during lengthy procedures that demand precise care.
Sleep dentistry, where general anaesthesia is used, offers paediatric dentists a solution for children who might find traditional treatments challenging. Key reasons include the necessity for precision in certain procedures where movement can hinder success or even pose risks. It's also beneficial for extensive treatments, allowing multiple procedures in one sitting. Very young children, often uncomprehending of dental processes, may also benefit from this approach, ensuring they remain calm and still.
Children with specific medical conditions or developmental challenges, such as ADHD and ASD, might find regular dental visits overwhelming. ADHD can make prolonged stillness difficult, while ASD children can be overstimulated by the dental environment. Other conditions, like anxiety disorders or past traumatic dental experiences, also make sleep dentistry a viable option. It's crucial, however, for parents, dentists, and pediatricians to collaboratively decide on using anaesthesia, weighing its benefits against potential risks.