Our Experience With Sedation Dentistry

One day shortly before Thanksgiving, I held Agent A upside down while tickling him and noticed two dark spots in his mouth. My immediate thought was I hope that's crayon. When it didn't rub or brush off, I knew I had to get a better look at those teeth.

More upside down laughing time for Agent A . . . and he finally kept his mouth open long enough to confirm those spots did in fact look like cavities.


After some Googling and asking around for recommendations, I called a pediatric dentist. Of course, it was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and they were closing the office Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. They asked if he were in any pain, and I told them no . . . I had just discovered the spots and didn't even know how long they had been there. So we set up an appointment for the following Tuesday.

The visit went about as well as can be expected for a newly two-year-old's first dentist visit. The dentist confirmed that he did in fact have two cavities, as well as the very beginnings of a third.

Ugh, again.

We talked options given his age and level of cooperation (read: none). This dental office will not do any type of restraint (i.e., papoose board) for kids. Not that I would have agreed to that anyway. Nor did he think "laughing gas" alone would allow him to complete the procedure effectively. Which brought us to our only realistic option: sedation. (Of course, I guess technically "not doing anything" was also an option, but given that he will likely have these baby teeth for another four to five years that didn't seem very realistic.)

After discussing the details, we scheduled an appointment for the end of February. Because that was the next available sedation appointment, and it was nearly two months out, I also set up an intermediate appointment for him just to keep an eye on things, and was told to bring him back in if he started showing any signs of discomfort.

Two nights before the procedure was scheduled, Agent A got sick. Now of course this was during our mid-winter, Agents constantly passing around germs, season of illness that also included this week. So, not surprising, but the timing couldn't have been worse. 

I called the pediatric anesthesiologist's office and explained A's symptoms. They cancelled. They simple could not take any chances with putting a child under who was not feeling 100%. 


Of course then the doubts began. Maybe he fell sick at that exact time for a reason. Maybe I shouldn't be doing this. Maybe I should have asked more questions. Maybe it wasn't as safe as they said. Maybe I should be more anxious about this than I am.

Maybe I should chill out.

After discussing it ad nauseam on my Facebook page as well as with friends and a few Facebook groups I belong to, I started to relax. Honestly, when it came right down to it, I trusted the dentist, and I just had to have faith that this anesthesiologist with decades of experience working with children knew what he was doing. 

The only problem? Now were were rescheduled for April . . . another two months of waiting. (The pediatric anesthesiology team works with dentists all over Florida and Georgia, and they only work with that particular pediatric dentist office once every eight weeks.)

Wait we did, and the day finally arrived. We followed the no food/drink rules by having jell-o and apple juice for breakfast (early) and then fasting after that. The Senior Agents and I did as well; there was no way I could feed them or myself if I couldn't feed A. We all took one for the team. (Okay; Momma cheated and had coffee before anyone else was out of bed. Shhh.)

Once we actually arrived at the office and checked him in and weighed him, I was totally calm. I think it was one of those situations where thinking about it is like a thousand times worse than actually doing it. The girls played in the waiting room while I chatted with the nurse and then the anesthesiologist. Then a little more waiting and it was time.

(Side note: The doctor doing the anesthesia was a kind, older gentleman—grandfatherly type—who clearly has a love of and a rapport with the little ones. Made me feel a lot better.)

The anesthesiologist came back out and chatted with A for a bit. He had me hold him while he gave him a little poke in the arm. This was just to make him sleepy enough that he wouldn't be aware of being moved to the back. He fell asleep in my arms within five minutes. At that point I passed him off to the anesthesiologist and he was so out of it he didn't protest at all. He carried him back and I went to check on the girls, still playing in the other part of the waiting room.

Not long after that, much to the girls' excitement, Dear Hubby arrived to pick them up. (Hey, look; it's Captain Daddy!) He had a meeting at work that ended right around the time of our appointment, so we had arranged for him to meet us there so he could take the girls home, since I didn't really know how long we'd be. He moved their car seats to his car and they all headed to lunch. (I really thought the Senior Agents would complain more about not eating, but they were troopers.)

Back to just me waiting . . . I was a little bummed that I couldn't get online on my Kindle (they have free wireless, but it wasn't cooperating), but I did have a book to read. Dentist came out once to let me know they had done x-rays and didn't find anything else, so they would just be doing the procedures we discussed and he'd be done in less than an hour.

Honestly, he was in recovery before I knew it. I headed back and found him sound asleep on one of the dentist chairs and the nurse sitting with him. After a few minutes, he seemed to be coming out of it, so I very gently picked him up and rocked him. I had to hold his head up . . . he was as wobbly as a newborn. A three foot tall, thirty pound newborn. It wasn't long before we were ready to go.

One of the staff walked us to the car. I had already thrown my backpack in the car, as well as A's shoes, and had a blanket ready for him just in case. (It was really warm that day, but sometimes folks feel cold afterward.) I strapped him in to his car seat (after explaining to him that Daddy had taken E and J's seats; the first thing he noticed was that they were missing) and we were on our way. 

I expected him to doze off. No. The whole way home he complained that I hadn't put his shoes back on. I need my shoes, Mommy. Where my shoes? I put on. I want shoes. Why you take my shoes?

Yep; he was fine.

Once home we did have to keep a close eye on him and not let him walk around on his own; he was pretty much falling over his own two feet. (Confession: It's actually kind of funny to watch your two-year-old walk around looking like he had a few too many.) Within an hour or two, he was totally fine and had a snack and some water. By later that evening he was more than ready for dinner and even played in the back yard with sisters a bit.

That night I nursed him and he drifted off to sleep peacefully, snug in his bed with Lambie (who, of course, had also accompanied us to the dentist).
My happy, smiling boy
In sum, if I had to do it all again, I would make the same choice. They did x-rays, a cleaning, filled three cavities, put sealants on the molars, and did a fluoride treatment. There is no way he would have been calm and cooperative enough for all that. I'm still kind of bummed that my baby ended up with cavities at two, but I feel better now that we've taken care of it.

He has no idea I wasn't with him for the entire procedure. Before we went in he told me, Dr. Ross fix my teeth. Mommy hold my hand the whole time.

And in his mind, that's exactly what happened.


  1. It definitely sounds like it was the right call. And how nice to know it was done without him even remembering it. That as a mom must have been a huge relief.-The Dose Girls

    1. That was pretty much my biggest fear . . . that he would remember going back there without me and having the IV placed. So, so, so glad we went this route.

  2. Good to know that you went ahead with sedation dentistry. I also tried that last year since I feel very anxious every time I go to the dentist. There were some apprehensions about the whole procedure, but like you said, you just have to trust the dentist since he has been doing this for years, and he really knows his stuff.

    Thomas DeFinnis @ WynneWoodDentalArts