Certain dental procedures may require a level of sedation to ensure that the patient is comfortable and free of pain but very little research has been done on the affects of different types of anesthesia on children.  Priyanshi Ritwik, DDS, MS, the associate professor of pediatric dentistry at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, led research into the side effects of anesthesia and how long the affects linger in children after being sedated.  The results of this study were recently published in an issue of Anesthesia Progress.

The Study: Dental Sedation In Children

This study was conducted at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Dentistry to compare the occurrence and duration of the side effects of meperidine and hydroxyzine to that of midazolam alone at 8 and 24 hours after sedation.  The results of the research show that most adverse reactions from the anesthesia occurred within eight hours while some lingered up to 24 hours.  Children that were sedated with meperidine and hydroxyzine experienced vomiting and were more likely to sleep for a prolonged period at home.  While the children sedated with midazolam experienced no vomiting, they were more irritable in the first eight hours.  The irritability of this group declined after the first eight hours while the children sedated with meperidine and hydroxyzine became more irritable between the 8 and 24 hour period.

Potential Dangers

The study also found that 50% of the children in both groups fell asleep in the car going home from the dentist.  This can be a potential concern for young children as children and infants sleeping in a car seat have been found to get less oxygen because they tilt their heads down and obstruct the airway.  It is recommended that parents have another adult with them to reposition the child’s head if the child should fall asleep on the way home.

According to Dr. Ritwik, “It is critical to know the effects of these medications beyond the time spent by the child in the dental office, so that parents can be appropriately cautioned about the expected effects and how to distinguish them from any potential emergencies such as airway obstruction.”

It is also important for parents to be educated about which medications can be used for pain and fever after a dental procedure requiring sedation.  Children also generally do not eat within the first eight hours after sedation so parents are advised to encourage their children to take liquids to keep them hydrated.

If you have any questions about what anethesia may be used on your child, or if you have any concerns, feel free to contact us for further information.