Some children are inevitably nervous and anxious to have dental work completed. Sedation is an important and useful tool in a pediatric dentistry. It can often times be the difference in creating a relaxing atmosphere for patient and parent, while providing the doctor a setting to work safely and efficiently.
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method in pediatric dentistry for easing mild to moderate anxiety in children. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide, and is delivered through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child’s nose. The laughing gas allows them to relax, but without putting them to sleep. Patients remain alert, awake and can talk to dentists and staff during their treatment. The onset is quick, the effects are fully reversible, and recovery is rapid. When treatment is complete, the nitrous is turned off and oxygen is administered for 5 to 10 minutes to help flush any remaining gas. The effects wear off almost immediately. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects, although some patients may experience minor nausea.
Prior to your child’s appointment:
- Please inform us of any change to your child’s health and/or medical condition.
- Tell us about any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child. It may limit the effectiveness of the nitrous oxide/oxygen.
- Let us know if your child is taking any medication on the day of the appointment.
Patients with special needs, dental phobia, low pain tolerance, major dental treatment, or physical handicaps may require general anesthesia when conscious sedation isn’t effective enough. We may recommend this for your child if:
- A procedure cannot otherwise be performed safely.
- The child has a condition which limits cooperation or the ability to follow instructions.
- The child needs a lengthy treatment.
- The child needs more complex dental treatment or oral surgery.
Before using an anesthetic, it is important to tell us about any medications or medical treatments your child is receiving. We will explain the process of sedation and give you pre- and post-sedation instructions.
If you have questions or concerns about sedation techniques, please contact our office.