Dental Anxiety & Sedation Dentistry in Durham, NC

Addressing Dental Anxiety Naturally

As mothers and pediatric dentists, our team only recommends deep sedation or general anesthesia as the last possible option. Our pediatric dentists in Durham are experts in behavior management and handling kids with minor anxiety without sedation. With their caring, gentle attitude and unique techniques, they can help them cope with dental anxiety during dental treatment.

Pain-Free Local Anesthesia

We use numbing gel and injections to provide pain-free local anesthesia for kids of all ages during their treatments at Smile First Dentist. Local numbing is often all that’s required for minor treatments like fillings. Our doctors are experienced children’s dentists, and can deliver injections with care, even if your child is afraid of needles.

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Types Of Dental Sedation

We offer three types of dental sedation at Smile First Dentist, as follows:

Laughing Gas Sedation (Nitrous Oxide)

This type of mild sedation is best for kids with minor-moderate anxiety. Our Durham team will use a comfortable nose mask with the scent of your child's choosing. It can help your child relax, feel giddy, euphoric, and more comfortable during their treatment.

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General Anesthesia
at Duke

This type of sedation is best for the kids that are very young, medically compromised, have severe anxiety, or have other special needs. We work with an exceptional team of pediatric anesthesiologists Duke Children’s Hospital. While the child is completely asleep and comfortable, we complete all dental treatment necessary in the operating room at Duke Hospital. 

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In-Office
General Anesthesia

This type of sedation is best for the kids that have severe anxiety or have special needs. We work with board certified anesthesiologists that are expertly trained to work with children. Similar to hospital anesthesia, all work will be completed while your child is asleep. Parents find it comforting to know that our dentists are on call and will be able to help with any concerns that may arise after the procedure. 

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The Benefits Of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry reduces feelings of fear and anxiety and allows children to feel more comfortable at Smile First Dentist. It also helps kids stay still and cooperate during their treatment, which speeds up the process. Sedation can even help with things like the fear of needles and strong gag reflex, which are both common complications when treating young kids.

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Is Sedation Dentistry Safe For Kids?

Yes. General anesthesia is only recommended if the risk of treatment outweighs the risk of exacerbated pain, infection, and potentially life threatening dental hospitalization. We work with board certified anesthesiologists that are fully trained in sedation and working with children. The anesthesiologists will discuss your child’s health with you before their procedure to ensure they’re a good candidate for sedation. If your child is not a candidate for in-office sedation, we have the option of working with a team of pediatric anesthesiologists and completing treatment at Duke Children's Hospital.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Laughing Gas (Nitrous Oxide) 

Laughing gas usually wears off after just a few minutes, and very rarely does a child experience any side effects. Typically nitrous side effects are limited to headaches, nausea, confusion, and dizziness. Your child can get back to their day-to-day routine right away.

IV Sedation & General Sedation

The after-effects of IV sedation and general sedation usually last at least 4-6 hours and can linger for up to 24 hours. They may include drowsiness, temporary amnesia, nausea or vomiting, and impaired motor skills.

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Meet Our In-Office Anesthesiologists

Get to Know Dr. Braxton

Dr. Braxton M. Henderson is a Board-Certified Diplomate of the American Dental Board of Anesthesiology. This credentialing is the highest level of anesthesia training that can be achieved in dentistry.

Dr. Henderson is a native of Covington, TN, a small town north of Memphis. Having spent many years living in Memphis and Covington, respectfully, he became familiar with the nuances of both city and small-town living. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Biological Sciences.

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Get to Know Dr. Benjamin

Dr. Benjamin Pritts is a Board-Certified Diplomate of the American Dental Board of Anesthesiology. This credentialing is the highest level of anesthesia training that can be achieved in dentistry.

Dr. Benjamin Pritts grew up in rural southwestern Pennsylvania where he began working at his family’s feed mill business and small farm at a young age. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Neuroscience.

Dr. Henderson and Dr. Pritts both earned their Doctor of Dental Medicine degrees at the University of Pittsburgh and completed extensive training in a three-year postdoctoral anesthesia residency program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In addition to the anesthesia training specifically for patients undergoing oral and maxillofacial procedures, their training consisted of rotations at two Level 1 trauma hospitals (UPMC Presbyterian and Mercy), UPMC Children’s Hospital, UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital, UPMC St. Margaret’s, as well as clinical rotations with: Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neurotrauma ICU, Internal Medicine, and Cardiology.