Nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) is considered one of the safest and most common “drugs” used in pediatric dentistry. Nitrous oxide is a gas that may help your child relax and cope with the stress of a dental visit. This gas is also used in combination with oral sedation and other management techniques due to its added safety benefit of delivering more oxygen to your child than is found in ordinary room air. Nitrous oxide does not replace the need for local anesthetic (an injection in the mouth to numb a tooth prior to treatment) and works best in school-age children.
Some children benefit from being sedated before dental treatment. The sedation procedures in our office involve the use of drugs that will make your child drowsy and less likely to remember the dental visit. Usually, nitrous oxide is also needed. It works best on children ages 5 and younger who need only one or two appointments to complete their treatment.
Children will sleep through the treatment 60% of the time. In remaining cases, the children will be awake or partially awake and may cry and/or resist treatment during the procedure.
If conscious sedation is recommended at your child’s exam visit, the doctor may recommend that your child be immobilized to prevent injury during the sedation appointment. Sometimes conscious sedation may not be effective and we may recommend that your child be treated with general anesthesia.
Dental treatment can be provided while your child is given a general anesthetic. The use of general anesthesia requires the presence of an anesthesiologist in addition to the dentist. Treatment is completed in the hospital operating room. An anesthetic gas is given to your child through an oral or nasal breathing tube that will keep them asleep during the procedure. All dental treatment needs can usually be completed in one visit.
We understand that every child is different and one behavior management option may prove more beneficial than another. At your child’s appointment, the doctor will discuss your child’s treatment needs with you and explain any recommendations for care.