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Pediatric  Dental  Health

March 1, 2002

Local Anesthetic Use In Children
Children should have a comfortable experience when going to the dentist. Local anesthetics are an important tool for the control of pain and discomfort during dental treatment. Local anesthesia is safe when the appropriate technique is used. Children remain conscious when a local anesthetic is given.

Local anesthetics are the most commonly used drugs in dentistry. Local anesthetics work by interfering with nerve signals. Anesthetics prevent the production and propagation of nerve signals. Local anesthetics are administered 300 million times annually in the United States.

The dose of local anesthetic should be lowered when children are sedated, however. Dentists using drugs for pediatric sedation should have additional training, and be prepared to manage the serious reactions that are possible. Possible complications include convulsions and respiratory depression. Lidocaine is the most commonly used local anesthetic.