Anxious Children And Professional Teeth Cleaning: What You Need To Consider

Some children aren't especially fond of the dentist. As they grow older, they may grow out of this fear and understand the importance of their regular dental checkups. But for now, even something as simple as a checkup can be difficult to manage. This becomes even more true when you realize that children's dental cleaning will be a part of that checkup. How can you ensure that your child's anxiety won't get in the way of the work their dentist needs to perform?

Dental Scaling

No matter how much you reassure your child nor how friendly the dentist might be, it can be difficult to convince some children that they have nothing to worry about. A professional dental cleaning can be especially problematic. The scaling tool needed to remove plaque and tartar from your child's teeth requires a certain amount of friction to work, meaning your child can feel like their mouth is being probed. Dental enamel (the protective coating that surrounds each tooth) doesn't have any nerves, and so dental cleaning doesn't cause pain as such, but the mild discomfort may make the experience stressful for your child. So what should you do?

Light Sedation

Dentists are generally used to younger, anxious patients, and there are ways to manage their worries. You might think of dental sedation as only being necessary for oral surgery and other intrusive forms of treatment, but sedation can be beneficial in many cases. For an anxious child, nitrous oxide will be ideal. The gas is delivered via a mask, and your child simply inhales to get the necessary dosage. The nitrous oxide will take effect within minutes. Your child remains conscious during the process, and this form of sedation is more of a relaxant. The dentist will often then use a dental prop to hold your child's mouth open, allowing them to get to work with the dental cleaning.


The after-effects of nitrous oxide can vary but aren't severe. Your child might be slightly disoriented as the sedative wears off, but this will quickly subside. Some light nausea and a mild headache are generally the only reactions, but any after-effects are temporary. That being said, it won't necessarily be practical for your child to return to school or daycare immediately afterward, so be sure to plan your schedule accordingly. 

It might seem like an extreme decision to have your child sedated for a dental cleaning, but this generally common action is intended to eliminate your child's discomfort while allowing them to get the dental care they need. Contact a children's dental cleaning service for more information.