According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), nitrous oxide is considered to be a safe and highly effective treatment for alleviating anxiety in the dentist chair. This treatment produces analgesic effects and helps the patient and dental practitioner to communicate during dental procedures.
Quick Facts about Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry is the utilization of a sedative that helps to calm a special needs child, reduce anxiety, and/or eliminate pain (when used in conjunction with specially-designed pain medications) while that child receives care in the dental environment.
Additionally, a pediatric dentist may elect to use calming pharmaceutical agents when multiple procedures must be done, if a child has a very strong gag reflex, and/or when their general safety may be compromised.
Nitrous oxide is considered to be a sedation substance. While the effects are typically short-lived, it is possible for the effects to continue hours after the completion of the dental procedure.
What is Nitrous Oxide?
Nitrous oxide is a combination of oxygen and medication. It is often referred to as “laughing gas”. It is a type of sedative that will help in completely relaxing your child. Once the mask that will deliver the nitrous oxide is placed over the nose, your child will smell a sweet type of scent. The sedation will start to occur about five minutes after breathing in the oxygen and medication mixture. The child that receives nitrous oxide will remain awake while the dental procedure is taking place.
They will not feel any pain. In fact, they may feel very happy.
Once the dental procedure is done, the nitrous oxide will be stopped and the child will only breathe in pure oxygen. It takes about five minutes of this and the remaining nitrous oxide is cleared from the lungs.
Ideal Candidates for Nitrous Oxide
While considered to be safe for patients of all ages, there are certain kids that are considered to be ideal candidates for nitrous oxide. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Children that are anxious or have fear about dentists and/or dental procedures
- Kids that have certain types of needs, in terms of health care
- Kids that have a gag reflex that is likely to interfere with the successful completion of the dental procedures that must be performed
- Children that must have a procedure performed that will take a long time
- Those which local anesthesia will not work on
Safe and Effective
Many parents are hesitant to allow their children to be exposed to nitrous oxide; however, the substance is very safe. Not only is it metered to ensure the proper dosing for your child, it may be stopped at any time. It is not absorbed into the body like common medications. Instead, it is breathed in and breathed out.
Not only does it reduce anxiety and calm children, it allows for dental work to be performed without the use of potentially dangerous medications.