Family and pediatric dentists often have to provide treatment to anxious, frightened, or uncooperative children. Even the behavior of children who were initially cooperative may start to change during extended procedures or after a series of dental appointments when treating a specific condition. To manage your child’s anxiety and ensure a positive attitude towards dentistry, the dentist may recommend the use of sedation such as Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) to help him/her relax during treatment.
Benefits of Nitrous Oxide
Nitrous oxide is a colorless gas with a sweet smell. It is applied through inhalation with oxygen using a nasal mask, which reduces the likelihood of resistance by children, and even makes them excited about the experience. This type of sedation can be used to:
- Reduce or eliminate anxiety
- Provide analgesia to some extent – raise the patient’s discomfort reaction threshold
- Help the child sit still for treatment – reduce physical reactions
- Reduce gagging
- Allow treatment of physically and mentally disabled patients
- Help the child accept “unpleasant” procedures such as injection of local anesthetic
How Nitrous Oxide Works
When administered, Nitrous oxide causes the CNS (Central Nervous System) depression and euphoria with minimal effect on the respiratory system and airway reflexes. Absorption and recovery from nitrous oxide sedation is relatively fast, with the effect completely fading within 2-3 minutes after administering stops.
During treatment, your child will be conscious and able to respond normally to verbal commands. The nurse will constantly monitor your child’s responsiveness, respiratory rate and rhythm, color, and other parameters as need be. At the end of treatment, your child will inhale 100% oxygen to flush out all the Nitrous oxide from the body.
Is your child a suitable candidate for nitrous oxide?
Before deciding to use nitrous oxide and oxygen inhalation therapy, the dentist will consider several factors to determine whether it is safe for your child. These include:
- Your child’s physical and emotional condition
- The potential effect on quality of dental care
- The extent of the planned dental procedure
- Alternative behavioral management options
The dentist will physically examine your child, review his/her medical history, and verify the presence of any contraindications before administering any form of sedation. The parent must also provide documented consent before treatment begins.