Pediatric dentists are trained to help children feel comfortable with dental treatment. Many children are calm, comfortable, and relaxed in a pediatric dental office. Sometimes, however, a child feels anxious during treatment. To feel comfortable, your child may need more support than a gentle, caring manner can provide. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a safe, effective technique to calm a child’s fear of the dental visit.
What is nitrous oxide/oxygen?
Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases: oxygen and nitrous oxide. When inhaled, it is absorbed by the body and has a calming effect. Normal breathing eliminates nitrous oxide/oxygen from the body.
How will my child feel when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen?
Your child will smell a sweet, pleasant aroma and experience a sense of well-being and relaxation. If your child is worried by the sights, sounds, or sensations of dental treatment, he or she may respond more positively with the use of nitrous oxide/oxygen.
How safe is nitrous oxide/oxygen?
Very safe. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry. It is non-addictive. It is mild, easily taken, then quickly eliminated by the body. Your child remains fully conscious and keeps all natural reflexes when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen.
Are there any special instructions for nitrous oxide/oxygen?
First, give your child little or no food before the dental visit. Occasionally, nausea or vomiting occurs when a child has a full stomach. Second, tell your pediatric dentist about any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child. It may limit the effectiveness of nitrous oxide/oxygen. Third, tell your pediatric dentist if your child is taking any medication on the day of the appointment.
Will nitrous oxide/oxygen work for all children?
Pediatric dentists know that all children are not alike! Every service is tailored to your child as an individual. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is not effective for some children, especially those who have severe anxiety, nasal congestion, extensive treatment needs, or discomfort wearing a nasal mask. Pediatric dentists have comprehensive specialty training and can offer other sedation methods that are right for your child.
Children who undergo extensive treatment, are very young, have special needs, or experience a high level of anxiety that interferes with the cooperation necessary for the pediatric dentist to perform treatment, may require some level of sedation. There are many safe and effective drugs available today that can help relax the child and promote a good environment for optimal and safe dental treatment.
IV sedation is sometimes necessary for children who are unable, by either age or maturity level, to cooperate during dental treatment. A board-certified M.D. anesthesiologist provides IV sedation in our office and monitors your child throughout the procedure and during recovery. The anesthesiologist will talk with you prior to the visit to provide instructions and answer any questions you may have.
IV sedation dentistry is most helpful for:
- Children who require major treatment
- The very anxious child
- Children that have had traumatic dental experiences
- Children with a strong gag reflex
- Children who have special needs or are medically compromised