Sat, May 4, 2013
Nitrous oxide is an anaesthetic gas. It can be given to your child to breath during a procedure to help reduce any discomfort they have and to help them to feel calm. It has been safely used for patients of many ages in dental clinics, during child birth and in Emergency Departments for several years. It is often referred to as ‘laughing gas’.
Most children are calm, comfortable and confident in a pediatric dental office. The office is designed for young people, and pediatric dentists have additional training in caring for infants, children and adolescents. Staff members choose to work in a pediatric dental office because they like children and want to cater to their special needs. These elements combine to make your child feel relaxed and special.
Sometimes, however, a child may feel anxious before or during treatment. Your child may need more support than a gentle, caring manner to feel comfortable. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a safe, effective sedative agent used to calm a child’s fear of the dental visit and enhance effective communication. Additionally, it works well for children whose gag reflex interferes with dental treatment.
You may know this gas as happy gas or laughing gas. It is a sweet smelling, colourless gas used to ease pain and anxiety (often given at the dentist, or to ease the pain of labour).
Your child may be offered nitrous oxide gas while the doctor or nurse carries out a procedure such as stitches, dressings or a blood test. The gas helps to ease the pain and anxiety your child may feel, but usually does not make them fall fully asleep.
When your child starts to breathe the nitrous oxide, they will feel drowsy within a couple of minutes. The gas will be continued until the procedure finishes and will wear off quickly when the gas is stopped. This means your child can quickly get back to their usual activities (playing, eating etc).
When used for mild (conscious) sedation, nitrous oxide may make you feel:
- Happy or silly
You also may feel:
- Tingling in your hands and feet
- Numbness in your mouth, feet or hands
- Heaviness or lightness
- Changes in the way you hear sounds (everything sounds far away or muffled or you may hear a sound described as “white noise”)
- A sense that everything is wonderful
- In rare cases, anxiety
Nitrous oxide is safe for children, but not all children will be able to use it. Children must be able to put up with having the soft nose piece or mask placed over the nose. They also must be able to breathe through the nose, and follow instructions from the dentist.