What Is Nitrous Oxide?
Nitrous oxide is a type of sedative gas often used at the dentist’s office. It is more commonly known as “laughing gas” because of the giggles that sometimes result from its use. It is a colorless and odorless gas that is administered through a small mask worn over the nose. Nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen in order to keep the effects of the gas mild and so it can be used for longer durations of time in a safe manner.
Nitrous oxide is used to help patients relax in the dental chair. After about 30 seconds of breathing the nitrous oxide and oxygen mixture, the sedative and pain-relieving effects will set in. Peak affects are reached in less than five minutes. One of the major benefits of using nitrous oxide is how quickly it takes effect and wears off. Slight lightheadedness and the giggles are common when a patient is under nitrous oxide sedation. It reduces pain and induces an all-encompassing pleasurable feeling in the body.
Why Use Nitrous Oxide in Children?
Many adults have fears of going to the dentist and so do most children. Nitrous oxide is a great tool that many kids’ dentists will likely recommend. Because of its relaxing and calming effect on patients, nitrous oxide is perfect for children who are afraid of dental procedures. It is also ideal for children with sensitive teeth, and it does increase the pain threshold of a person, little or big. Many children have sensitive gag reflexes that make completing dental procedures difficult, but the use of nitrous oxide usually minimizes the gag reflex. Mixing nitrous oxide with oxygen, which is always done in any medical/dental setting, makes it safe for long periods of time. This can make longer procedures much more bearable for young children. The amount of nitrous oxide the child is receiving can be altered very easily by the dentist if an adjustment is needed.
What to Expect and How to Prepare
Before a dental visit that requires the use of nitrous oxide sedation, it is best to eat just a light meal, no less than 2 hours before the procedure. During the procedure, the child will remain fully conscious. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off very quickly once 100% oxygen is administered at the end of the procedure. Within a few minutes, the child will have no lasting effects from the gas. Some kids get so relaxed that they behave like they normally would after they wake from a good night’s sleep.
For further questions about using nitrous oxide for your child’s dentist appointment, call Playtime Dental and we will be more than happy to answer any more questions or concerns you might have!