Intranasal sedatives in pediatric dentistry

Saudi Med J. 2016 Sep;37(9):948-56. doi: 10.15537/smj.2016.9.15003.


Objectives: To identify the intranasal (IN) sedatives used to achieve conscious sedation during dental procedures amongst children.

Methods: A literature review was conducted by identifying relevant studies through searches on Medline. Search included IN of midazolam, ketamine, sufentanil, dexmedetomidine, clonidine, haloperidol, and loranzepam. Studies included were conducted amongst individuals below 18 years, published in English, and were not restricted by year. Exclusion criteria were articles that did not focus on pediatric dentistry.

Results: Twenty studies were included. The most commonly used sedatives were midazolam, followed by ketamine and sufentanil. Onset of action for IN midazolam was 5-15 minutes (min), however, IN ketamine was faster (mean 5.74 min), while both IN sufentanil (mean 20 min) and IN dexmedetomidine (mean 25 min) were slow in comparison. Midazolam was effective for modifying behavior in mild to moderately anxious children, however, for more invasive or prolonged procedures, stronger sedatives, such as IN ketamine, IN sufentanil were recommended. In addition, ketamine fared better in overall success rate (89%) when compared with IN midazolam (69%). Intranasal dexmedetomidine was only used as pre-medication amongst children. While its' onset of action is longer when compared with IN midazolam, it produced deeper sedation at the time of separation from the parent and at the time of anesthesia induction.

Conclusion: Intranasal midazolam, ketamine, and sufentanil are effective and safe for conscious sedation, while intranasal midazolam, dexmedetomidine, and sufentanil have proven to be effective premedications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Pediatric Dentistry


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives