One of the biggest fears for kids is the dentist office - full of unfamiliar sights, sounds and sometimes discomfort. Find out how IV sedation is now being used locally for children with extreme fears or in need of major dental work.
Despite a solid teeth cleaning routine at home, three-year-old Gretchen LeBlanc's teeth were decaying. "Her teeth needed to be capped, that way they would not abscess," said mom, Liz.
Liz knew the treatment plan would be involved. Pediatric dentist Eric Sanders with Sanders Pediatric Dentistry in Lake Charles treats Gretchen and says she was an ideal candidate for a new option in pediatric dentistry: in office IV sedation. "You can do longer procedures in our office here under the direction and guidance of an anesthesiologist," he said, "you can prevent multiple visits, which is what we typically have to do under a conscious sedation."
Without this option, treatment would have been spread over several appointments because it is hard to get a child to sit still long enough to safely get everything done. "You want to put the child in the most comfortable position as possible and less threatening so that they have a good dental experience," said Sanders, "that way when they make their own choices, they want to go to the dentist."
Sanders' job is specifically dental work. Anesthesiologist Justin Koch handles the sedation. "We start with a little oral sedation to bring them back and ease their mind about having an IV started," he said, "we'll use some numbing cream so that they don't feel the IV stick."
There is no IV drip, just a port infused with medicine. "We can get them from completely awake to ready to have surgery in about 30-45 seconds," said Koch.
Even though Gretchen's vitals are constantly monitored, the sedation was still nerve-wrecking for Liz. "Oh, very nervous because it's not in a hospital," she said, "but I trust everybody here and this is her first time being sedated at all or any medicine, so we were very nervous."
Gretchen's smile was fixed up in one visit with no memory of anything scary in the procedure chair. But it is not for everyone, including kids under age two. "It's all based on age, on the amount of treatment we're going to have to do, the child's apprehension and the previous experiences they've had," said Sanders.
While IV sedation under the care of an anesthesiologist is safe, a child might experience side effects ranging from slowed blood pressure to headache, dizziness and nausea.
The procedure room is stocked with emergency medications and oxygen tanks as a precaution.