If you're an adult who needs to get a filling or a crown, you generally have the work done without sedation. You'll be given anesthesia to numb your mouth, but sedation is really only given if you're someone who deals with serious anxiety related to dental care. With kids, however, things are different. Dentists are often quick to give children a sedative for the minor dental procedures that adults do not receive sedation for. Why? As it turns out, there are numerous benefits associated with this practice.
The experience won't be as frightening for the child.
Adults know that dentists are not there to harm them. You can tell this to a child, but they may not quite internalize it. Having dental instruments in their mouth, while necessary, can be scary and traumatizing for kids. It could make them more afraid of the dentist in the future, even when the procedures they need are really minor ones, like a dental cleaning. If your child is sedated during the dental procedure, they won't really be aware of what's going on, and they'll be more relaxed and at-ease. This can prevent trauma, which is a good move for your child's future mental health and dental needs.
It will be easier for the dentist to work.
Dentists do need their patients to hold reasonably still during procedures. Adults know to sit still, but kids don't always have as much patience with this. Sedation can help them stay more relaxed so they are less apt to wiggle around. This allows the dentist to work more precisely. It can help them finish the procedure faster, and it can help prevent the dentist from getting bad-tasting substances on the tongue. Children who tend to fidget can especially benefit from sedation during dental procedures.
Sedation is very safe.
Another reason why sedation is so commonly given is that it is very safe. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is what dentists usually use to sedate children. It doesn't cause any serious side effects, and it wears off quickly after treatment. Because it is so safe, dentists often give sedation to kids as a "just in case" measure. They'd rather give it up-front than find out partway through the procedure that your child is anxious or wiggly.
Sedation is commonly used in kids' dentistry, and there are good reasons for this. Talk to your child's dentist if you have any additional concerns about this.