Sedation for children – things you need to know
For some children, dental procedures can be intimidating, especially if they are anxious. It is the goal and purpose of Pediatric Dentists to provide patients with a positive experience in a safe, stress-free environment. One way to achieve this is through the use of nitrous oxide, often referred to as “laughing gas.” This mild form of sedation is commonly used to relieve anxiety and discomfort during dental procedures for children.
What is Nitrous Oxide sedation?
Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless gas that has been deemed safe and gentle to use for children for dental procedures in every part of the world. This mild sedation is applicable for children who have the below cases:
- Experience fear and anxiety when it comes to dental visits and procedures
- Have a short attention span, difficulty following instructions and sitting still
- Have a strong gag reflex that could interfere with the dentist’s ability to perform routine procedures
- Have special health care needs
- Are resistant to local anesthesia due to fear
- Will be undergoing a prolonged dental procedure
Nitrous oxide sedation can help to relax and soothe kids, allowing them to remain calm during routine dental procedures. Being relaxed during dental procedures does not only ensure their physical safety but also encourages a positive dental experience and better overall dental care.
Small doses of nitrous oxide are completely harmless and have been used safely in pediatric dentistry for many years.
What is the purpose of nitrous oxide? What are the benefits?
Nitrous oxide can be used for a wide range of dental procedures, from cleaning teeth to filling cavities.
There are numerous benefits to using nitrous oxide:
Quick to relax
Unlike other types of sedation dentistry, nitrous oxide relaxes a child without putting them to sleep, leaving the patient awake and responsive during the procedure. This helps children relax while sitting in the dental chair so they can get the care they need to maintain a healthy smile without fear, anxiety, or being upset.
Quick to wear off
One of the wonderful attributes of nitrous oxide is that it takes effect quickly and is reversed quickly as well. The effects of nitrous oxide dissipate immediately and recovery time is complete before the patient leaves our office. Children are often able to return to the classroom after their appointment is over!
No lingering side effects
Since there are no lingering side effects of nitrous oxide, it is safe for patients of all ages, including young children. As the child breathes it in, they may feel slightly light-headed or that their limbs are heavy. This is a normal reaction, and as mentioned above, will disappear at the end of treatment. The overall relaxed feeling, while being sedated, allows the dentist to complete the procedure successfully on a relaxed patient.
How nitrous oxide works?
Pediatric nitrous oxide is delivered through a small fitted mask that covers the child’s nose. It does not cover their mouth. The mask carries oxygen mixed with nitrous, and as the patient breathes in normally through their nose, it gets absorbed in the lungs and starts to work. The sedation takes effect in about five minutes, though the mask will remain in place throughout the procedure. While giving the nitrous oxide, staff will monitor your child’s level of sedation to ensure that they can still cooperate and follow verbal instructions. Once treatment is complete, the nitrous will be turned off, and the child will breathe in pure oxygen for a few minutes to clear out any remaining gas.