Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, has been used in dentistry for over a century, and is a very safe and effective way to make your child comfortable during, what could be considered, uncomfortable dental procedures such as extractions and fillings.
How laughing gas works
Laughing gas is a mild sedative that is easy to control. It does not affect the heart rate, nor does it adversely affect the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, or brain.Nitrous oxide is used together with oxygen in a specific ratio that is tailored for your child for a very gentle effect, making it the mildest form of sedation used in dental procedures. It is this aspect that makes it a common choice for sedating children.
When administering laughing gas to a child, the dentist fits a small mask over the child’s nose and asks him/her to breathe normally. Provided the child is not uncomfortable when wearing the soft mask and can breathe through the nose, he/she should not have any issues with the laughing gas.
Considering how mild and gentle nitrous oxide is, it can even be used for simple cleanings if the child is very anxious or nervous about a previous negative experience at the dentist’s office. That said, laughing gas is more commonly used during procedures such as filling cavities.
What to expect
Laughing gas does not take away much sensation from your child; it just erases the pain and helps to ease the feelings of fear, anxiety, and other discomfort that may arise from being in the dentist’s chair for a long period.
When administered, the child will feel relaxed, happy, and very comfortable: not overly drowsy. Many patients also feel a little giddy and may giggle a lot. The sedation will not, however, prevent your child from understanding the dentist’s instructions or responding to them at any point during the procedure.
Although the arms and legs may feel a little heavy, the child should still be able to move during the procedure. After the mask is removed, the effects of the laughing gas will wear off and your child will back to feeling normal in a matter of minutes.
Although nitrous oxide helps children feel completely comfortable about a long procedure, often during a more complex dental procedure, the dentist may decide to use local anesthesia at the site to numb the area (tooth and gums), in addition to the laughing gas, so your child is perfectly comfortable. For more information on the available options and what will be best for your child, contact the Discovery Dental team today!