Pediatric Nitrous Oxide

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Nitrous oxide (also called “laughing gas” or “happy gas”) is a safe and effective analgesic that’s been used for hundreds of years. In fact, dentists have been using it since the 1800s and medical providers continue to use it worldwide.

Laughing gas is frequently used when patients have mild anxiety, require routine dental treatments, or want to ensure they’ll feel comfortable during basic procedures. It works quickly, effectively, and doesn’t leave any of the lingering side-effects of deeper types of sedatives.

Is Happy Gas a Type of Sedation?

Yes. Nitrous oxide is a type of inhalation sedation. When it’s mixed with pure oxygen and inhaled, it gives a calming sensation similar to drinking a couple of glasses of wine. You’re still completely conscious, but you just don’t care as much about what’s going on.

Nitrous is delivered through a hose and soft nosepiece that rests over your face. As you inhale, it enters into your respiratory and circulatory systems, calming your body from head to toe. Some people even feel tingling or warm sensations in their hands and feet. Children may even get a little sleepy, but nitrous oxide doesn’t “knock them out” like general anesthesia. Once it’s turned off and the nitrous leaves their system, they feel like themselves again.

How to Plan for Nitrous Oxide

Since a small percentage of people can get nauseous during their dental appointment, it’s extremely important that your child not eat large meals before a planned nitrous oxide procedure. The last thing we want is for them to get sick to their stomach while they’re feeling a little drowsy. That being said, a light, small meal is usually just fine!

If your child’s dental treatment is more extensive, we recommend skipping breakfast altogether and scheduling the appointment first thing in the morning. That way they’re well rested and there’s nothing in their stomach.

Does My Child Need Laughing Gas?

Any time a young patient needs dental treatment — especially a filling, pulp therapy, or dental crown — they may be hesitant to cooperate. It’s not that they’re misbehaving, but rather that they feel anxious. Using nitrous oxide is a safe and effective way to battle dental phobia for all ages. By ensuring your child gets to have a positive experience, they’ll be less likely to fear the dentist’s office in the future.

Using laughing gas significantly improves a child’s willingness to cooperate during most dental treatments. Since having someone work inside of your mouth (or the idea of an injection) can cause anxiety, the nitrous oxide essentially takes their mind off of whatever is going on in the background. The more relaxed and distracted they feel, the less of a chance there is for discomfort. It’s also helpful if your child has a sensitive gag reflex!

Recovery After Nitrous Oxide During Dental Care

One of the things that makes nitrous oxide dental sedation different than other types of sedatives is how quickly it wears off. Instead of feeling drowsy for hours at a time, the laughing gas completely leaves your child’s circulatory system in about five minutes.

After the dental procedure is completed, we’ll switch the oxygen-nitrous mixture to 100% oxygen. Your child will continue breathing normally through their nose for several minutes. Within just a few minutes, all of the tingling or relaxing sensations will begin to ease. About 10 minutes later, they’ll be alert enough to pop straight out of the dental chair and walk back to the car.

Prevent Anxiety, Work Efficiently

Nitrous oxide sedation works great for all ages when it comes to helping patients relax. The more comfortable your child feels in the dental chair, the more efficiently we can tend to their oral health needs. For instance, using happy gas for a filling appointment can potentially cut the duration of the visit in half if your child is prone to being a bit wiggly or nervous. Since they’ll be calmed by the inhalation sedative (yet still completely awake) it’s easier to distract them from what’s going on. Some children even tend to want to doze off into a light nap or get a case of the giggles.

Laughing gas is one of those resources that we can typically add onto any dental service at the time of the appointment. But for children we recommend working it into every care plan to ensure their anxiety is kept to a minimum.

Call for More Information

Does your child have a cavity? Anxiety? A sensitive gag reflex? Schedule their treatment with gentle nitrous oxide sedation to treat their oral infection while it’s still small. Call (617) 527-6061 or request an appointment online.

Enhance Your Smile with Waban Dental Group