FAQ: Laughing Gas for Your Child’s Dental Work

May 29, 2019

“Your child has a cavity.”

Words a parent never wants to hear. But even with a good brushing and flossing routine, it can still happen. And if you have a wiggly child with a terrible gag reflex, you might find yourself wondering how they will fair through their appointment (yikes). But don’t fret, there are options to help calm your child that your dentist may recommend. One being, laughing gas.

What is “laughing gas” anyway?

Nitrous oxide, also referred to as “laughing gas”, is a mild sedative that your dentist may use to help calm your child during their dental procedure. This colorless gas is commonly administered to help young (and old) patients with pain and nervousness.

Is nitrous oxide safe for children?

According to the American Dental Association, Nitrous oxide is a safe sedative agent that may aid in assistance for certain dental procedures. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes nitrous oxide as a safe method to reduce anxiety among pediatric patients. In short, nitrous oxide has an excellent safety record when administered by a trained professional.

When would a dentist possibly recommend using nitrous oxide for my child?

A dentist may recommend laughing gas for long procedures, children who are fearful or have difficulty sitting still, children with gag reflexes and/or children with special needs. The benefit(s) of using nitrous oxide may include: reduced anxiety, limit unwanted movement or reactions during treatment, raised pain threshold, increased tolerance for a longer appointment and reduced gagging.

How does it work?

Mixed with oxygen, nitrous oxide is inhaled through a small mask and works in a matter of a few minutes. As your child is instructed to breathe through their nose, they will then relax and experience euphoric feelings. Nitrous oxide will not cause your child to sleep, instead they will remain awake and calm through their procedure.

How long does it last?

Only the duration of your child’s procedure. After the mask is removed, the effects of nitrous oxide will wear off.

Are there other types of sedation?

Yes, there are different types of sedation (oral, nitrous oxide and intravenous), so it’s important to discuss treatment options with your dentist prior to your appointment to choose what is best for your child.

Your child’s dentist will thoroughly explain the use of nitrous oxide and your child’s safety at their appointment. Ready to find a Dental Select dentist for your child’s next appointment? Find one here.