In many types of medical, dental and psychiatric fields, different types of sedation are sometimes used to either put the patient to sleep completely or merely loosen the patient up enough where he or she won’t become agitated during the procedure to be performed. However, when it comes to children, there are certain types of sedation that should not be given to them since their bodies are so small and not yet developed. However, there are some types of sedation that have been deemed safer than others for children and infants, and one of those is chloral hydrate.
What Is Chloral Hydrate Sedation?
Chloral hydrate sedation is one of the oldest sedation methods used in modern science. It was first introduced into the market in the late 1800s, and although there are plenty of newer methods of sedation available on the market today, many doctors still tend to choose chloral hydrate as their preferred sedation method. Part of the reason for this is because chloral hydrate is a synthetic sedative-hypnotic, which basically means that it can sedate patients without all the other potentially harmful side effects to the cardiovascular or respiratory functions. Of course, this is only true when the sedation is administered in therapeutic doses. Like any other drug, if too much is administered, it could very well have adverse side effects, but generally this type of sedation is considered to have less side effects than other sedatives like opioids. Also, chloral hydrate is administered orally, but it doesn’t necessarily put the patient to sleep. Instead, the patient merely becomes sleepy, but he or she is still conscious and responsive. While some children might fall asleep during the dental procedure, they can usually be easily woken up.
Why Is Chloral Hydrate Sedation Used in Pediatric Dentistry?
Although many children can undergo dental treatment quite well, there are others who are quite frightened of dentists and possess dental phobias. Even children who don’t possess dental phobias might find it difficult to remain still for long periods of time. Children tend to be fidgety, and a conscious sedative like chloral hydrate simply calms them and leaves them conscious without putting them into a deeply sedative state. Chloral hydrate sedation is meant to make children a bit more cooperative, have less movement throughout treatment, reduce any anxiety in the child and provide them with more comfort and relief from any pain they might otherwise have experienced without the sedation.
Is It Safe?
While chloral hydrate sedation is overall considered to be a relatively safe form of sedation for children, parents should still discuss any medical conditions, allergies or anything else that their children suffer from with dentists before the sedation is administered to them. If children are taking any medications, that should be noted as well to ensure that the sedation doesn’t interact with any other chemicals in the child’s body. When chloral hydrate sedation is administered by a trained dentist or anesthesiologist, it is generally considered safe. The reason why only trained professionals should administer dosages is because too little might not produce enough of the desired effect while too much could produce undesired effects and present serious complications.
Supervision Is Key
After children have been sedated with chloral hydrate sedation at their dentist’s offices, parents should make sure that they monitor them constantly for the rest of the day. Because children’s bodies are much smaller than adults, whereas conscious sedation might simply leave adults feeling relaxed and a bit sleepy for the rest of the day, children are usually extremely tired and sleepy. When used on extremely small children and infants, some practitioners might recommend a device called a pulse monitor be placed on the children’s fingers or toes to monitor their breathing and oxygen levels both during and after the dental procedure. In fact, most dentists won’t even allow the children to leave until such monitoring has been done and the child is finally completely awake and fully alert.
American Association of Pediatric Dentistry. “Conscious sedation of pediatric dental patients: an investigation of chloral hydrate, hydroxyzine pamoate, and meperidine vs. chloral hydrate and hydroxyzine pamoate.” Retrieved on March 3, 2016, from http://www.aapd.org/assets/1/25/hasty-13-01.pdf.
Medscape. “The use of chloral hydrate in infants and children.” Retrieved on March 3, 2016, from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/513402.
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