Nitrous Oxide also known as “laughing gas” or “happy air,” nitrous oxide is used to put an anxious child at ease. Sometimes a child may feel slightly anxious during their dental treatment, and nitrous oxide can create feelings of happiness and relaxation when inhaled. Nitrous oxide is a very safe and effective sedative with a rapid onset. It is also non-allergic! A fitted mask is placed over the nose and, as the patient breathes normally, uptake occurs through the lungs. At the end of treatment, the nitrous oxide is stopped, and after a short period of breathing oxygen-nitrous oxide has no lingering effects. Children sometimes report dreaming during their treatment, and their arms and legs may feel “tingly.” It raises their pain threshold and may even make the time appear to pass more quickly for them.

We usually recommend giving your child little or no food two hours prior to their dental visit. Sometimes, nitrous oxide can create feelings of nausea or vomiting when on a full stomach.

Of course, any time any type of medication is administered to a child, parents deserve to be informed. We hope we can answer most of your questions with this informative guide about nitrous oxide, but if you would like additional information please do not hesitate to ask questions during your child’s appointment!

So, what exactly is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a colorless gas with a slightly sweet odor. Once it is administered through a breathing mask, the patient remains awake but completely relaxed during their procedure. All bodily functions remain normal during the administration of nitrous oxide, and the effects wear off quickly. When the procedure is over, the flow of nitrous oxide is slowly decreased to zero, replaced by oxygen. After resting in the chair for a few minutes, your child should feel completely normal.

What are the potential side effects of nitrous oxide?

Compared to other sedatives, nitrous oxide has very little effect on the respiratory system. The most common adverse effects we see in young patients are nausea or vomiting. However, this is very rare and occurs in just 0.5% of patients, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. If your child had a sensitive stomach or has a history of trouble handling sedatives, speak with their Pediatric Dentist in Roswell about your concerns.

What are the benefits of nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide takes effect within minutes, and its effects are reversible almost immediately. This is very convenient, as it will not add very much time to your child’s appointment. Nitrous oxide is not considered a substitute for a local anesthetic, as it does not numb pain. It is an anxiolytic, as it eases anxiety. If your child does require a numbing shot, they shouldn’t mind at all while under sedation. While they will be relaxed, they won’t be asleep. That means they will be aware of their surroundings and remain in control of themselves during the procedure. This makes a lot of parents and patients feel much more comfortable.

Can my child eat before their appointment?

Patients do not have to fast before receiving nitrous oxide. However, to prevent any nausea that may occur, the dentist may recommend that your child eat only a light meal a couple of hours before their appointment.

When do pediatric dentists use nitrous oxide?

Pediatric dentists typically use nitrous oxide when young patients are extremely stressed or nervous and may be comforted by mild sedation. Nitrous oxide can also be used for longer procedures when the patient might get uncomfortable and restless. It is perfectly normal for children to feel anxious during dental procedures, and nitrous oxide can help ease their nerves.