Nitrous oxide (Laughing gas): For my child? Why? What will it do to my baby?Is it safe?

As a parent, you probably asked one or more of these questions when the dentist attempting to treat your child told you that maybe laughing gas might be a good option for your child. Now while a million things are going through your head, the front desk attempts to explain laughing gas to you, to which she calls Nitrous, and tells you bunch of things that you are not really paying attention to because all that is going through your head is “My baby needs something to ‘relax'” ” It’s a sedative” “Does my child really need this?” ” Is this thing even safe?”….

At Open Bright Pediatric Dentistry, we understand your concern and we constantly focus on providing the best experience for you and your child. In that perspective, we realize that some kids may come to our offices looking forward to the experience of seeing the dentist and others may feel anxious before seeing the dentist or even during the treatment. Our caring manner or gentle support just might not be enough to make them feel comfortable. This is where we provide you with the option of Nitrous oxide/oxygen, also known as laughing gas, as a safe effective sedative agent that is commonly used to calm a child’s fear of the dental visit and also enhance effective communication. Laughing gas also works well for children whose gag reflex interferes with dental treatment.

Q: What is nitrous oxide/oxygen?

Nitrous oxide/oxygen (N2O-O2) is a blend of two gases — oxygen and nitrous oxide. A fitted mask is placed over the nose and, as the patient breathes normally, uptake occurs through the lungs. At the end of treatment, it is eliminated after a short period of breathing oxygen and has no lingering effects.

Q: How will my child feel when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen?

Your child will smell a faint, sweet aroma and experience a sense of well-being and relaxation. Since it may produce a feeling of giddiness or euphoria, it is often called “laughing gas.” Children sometimes report dreaming and their arms and legs may feel “tingly.” It raises the pain threshold and may even make the time appear to pass quickly. 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/oxygen.

Q: How safe is nitrous oxide/oxygen?

Very safe. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry. It is well tolerated. It has a rapid onset, is reversible, can be adjusted in various concentrations and is non-allergenic. Your child remains fully conscious — keeps all natural reflexes — when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen. He/she will be capable of responding to a question or request. Nitrous oxide/oxygen may also be used in combination with other sedative agents.

Q: Are there any special instructions for nitrous oxide/oxygen?

First, give your child little or no food in the two hours preceding the dental visit (occasionally, nausea or vomiting occurs when a child has a full stomach). Second, tell Dr. Hyacinthe about any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child, as it may limit the effectiveness of nitrous oxide/oxygen. Third, tell Dr. Hyacinthe if your child is taking any medication on the day of the appointment.

Q: Will nitrous oxide/oxygen work for all children?

Open Bright Pediatric Dentistry knows that all children are not alike. Every service is tailored to your child as an individual. Nitrous oxide/oxygen may not be effective for some children, especially those who have severe anxiety, nasal congestion, or discomfort wearing a nasal mask. Dr. Hyacinthe will review your child’s medical history, level of anxiety, and dental treatment needs and inform you if nitrous oxide/oxygen is recommended for your child. Dr. Hyacinthe has comprehensive specialty training and can offer other sedation methods that are right for your child.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry