Improving Pediatric Dental Sedation

Researchers at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans conducted a study on the effects of common oral drugs used to sedate children during dental procedures. The results of the study provides both pediatric dentists and parents information on an area of children’s dental care that has not been investigated to a great extent in recent years.

The study compared the incidence and duration of side  effects of three commonly used oral drugs at 8 and 24 hours after sedation.  Several important findings were noted in the study.  The researchers found:

  • The most adverse reactions occurred within eight hours of sedation, but could last up to 24 hours.
  • Those children sedated with meperidine and hydroxyzine experienced vomiting, while those children sedated with midazolam did not experience vomiting.
  • Those children sedated with meperidine and hydroxyzine slept more at home after sedation than those patients sedated with midazolam.
  • Irritability was noted with all three drugs; however the irritability was more common in the first eight hours in the midazolam group, whereas the meperidine and hydroxyzine group’s irritability increased in the 8-24 hour period.
  • Approximately 50 percent of children in both groups slept on the way home from the dentist’s office, which can become a risk for airway obstruction, as a child’s head many times tilts down to the chest when sleeping in a car.

The lead researcher, Dr. Ritwik, stated, “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.”

The study which was published in Anesthesia Progress, recommends that those parents whose children are undergoing dental sedation  be aware of which mediations are safe to use to manage their child’s postoperative pain and fever, and also suggests parents  encourage their child to stay hydrated after dental sedation, as well, because many children do not want to eat or drink in the first eight hours after sedation.