Nitrous oxide is also known as laughing gas. It is often used for children and adults who are mildly or moderately anxious or nervous. It eases their fears so that they can relax. This helps them to receive treatment in a comfortable and safe manner.
Nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and delivered through a small mask over the nose. The patient will be asked to breathe through the nose and not through the mouth. As the gas begins to work, the patient usually will become less agitated and nervous.
The effects of nitrous oxide are mild. It is safe and quickly eliminated from the body. Your child remains awake and can continue to interact with the dentist. When the gas is turned off, the effects wear off very quickly. The dentist will give your child oxygen for a few minutes after treatment. This helps to flush the child’s body of any remaining gas.
Sometimes young children may reject wearing the mask. Nitrous oxide may not be the right type of sedation for them. In addition, nitrous oxide can sometimes make a child feel nauseous. Before a dental visit using this form of conscious sedation, it is best to feed your child only liquids or a light meal a few hours beforehand. Also, if you are congested or are having trouble breathing through your nose on the day of treatment, nitrous oxide may be less effective.