Nitrous oxide is also commonly known as “laughing gas”. It is a very safe sedation option for children undergoing dental procedures and is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Nitrous oxide is not intended to put your child to sleep, only to help relax them. At Bloomington Pediatric Dentistry we have a unique way of explaining its use to children. The delivery system is a soft nose that is placed over their nose so they can inhale the nitrous oxide/oxygen mixture. Throughout the procedure your child will be breathing less nitrous oxide and more oxygen and by the end of the procedure it will be only oxygen. Before your child leaves the dental chair all of the nitrous oxide is out of your child’s system and they feel as they did before we began the appointment.
What is nitrous oxide?
Nitrous oxide is a blend of two gases: oxygen and nitrous oxide. When inhaled, it is absorbed by the body and has a calming effect. Normal breathing eliminates nitrous oxide from the body.
How will my child feel when breathing nitrous oxide?
Your child will smell a sweet, pleasant aroma and experience a sense of well-being and relaxation. If your child is worried by the sights, sounds or sensations of dental treatment, he or she may respond more positively with the use of nitrous oxide.
Are there any special instructions for nitrous oxide/oxygen?
First, give your child little or no food before the dental visit. Occasionally, nausea or vomiting occurs when a child has a full stomach. Second, tell your pediatric dentist about any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child as it may limit the effectiveness of nitrous oxide. Third, tell your pediatric dentist if your child is taking any medication (prescription or over the counter) on the day of the appointment.
Will nitrous oxide work for all children?
Pediatric dentists know that all children are not alike and therefore nitrous oxide is not going to be effective for all children. Inability to breathe through their nose is one of the biggest reasons why nitrous oxide may not work for your child. If your child is too young to understand the directions to breathe through their nose, has anxiety so severe they cannot calm down to listen, nasal congestion, or nasal defects, nitrous oxide may not be successful. If any of these situations apply to your child, the doctor may discuss alternative sedation options with you.