Is Nitrous Dangerous for My Kids at the Dentist?


It’s natural for children to feel some level of anxiety or nervousness whenever they are taken to see the dentist. Remaining seated on a chair for a specific length of time and having someone poking around inside their mouths using strange equipment may not exactly be their idea of a good way to spend their time, especially when they could be playing or bonding with their family over other activities. Plus, there’s always the fear that anything a dentist does to their mouth could cause pain.No matter how amazing our Pediatric Dentists are at calming kids fears, there is the occasional situation where sedation dentistry is necessary.

To help alleviate a child’s fear and anxiety, dentists employ the use of sedation practices, and one of the most commonly known is the use of nitrous oxide.

How is Nitrous Oxide used at the dentist?

You may know nitrous oxide better as laughing gas. This form of sedation blends two gases (oxygen and nitrous oxide) and is typically administered through a mask over the patient’s nose; by breathing in and out normally, the patient quickly begins to feel less nervous and more relaxed, and the dental examination or treatment can proceed.

Is nitrous oxide safe for my kids at the dentist?

The use of nitrous oxide is one of the mildest forms of sedation for dental patients and is 100% safe to use on children.

Here are some key points for parents to consider:

  • Your child will smell a faint, sweetish aroma once the mask is placed over his nose and the laughing gas is administered. Soon after, he will feel relaxed, his arms and legs may feel tingly, and he may even experience a sense of euphoria or giddiness. The gas can raise the pain threshold so your child may not feel discomfort or pain at all during the procedure. For some young patients, breathing in the nitrous oxide even causes them to dream.
  • Patients remain fully conscious. Nitrous oxide will not put your child to sleep on the dentist’s chair. He will retain all the usual reflexes and he can respond to questions and requests from the dentist.
  • Once the procedure is finished and the nitrous oxide is turned off, the dentist will continue to administer oxygen to your child for about three to five minutes. This helps ensure that the nitrous oxide is completely flushed out of the child’s system. There will be no lingering effects on your child.
  • Nitrous oxide may not be the right sedation solution for every child. Because it is administered through a mask placed over the nose, it may not be the most effective method if your child has a stuffed nose at the time of the visit, severe anxiety, or a strong reaction to wearing a mask. You can talk to your dentist about a better alternative for your little one.

If your child has anxiety about the Dentist, or has extensive dental work where nitrous oxide might be a solution to comfort them, be sure to voice your concerns to the Surfside Kids Dental team. We will be happy to discuss your child’s options and find the right solution for dental care.

No Bad Days,

Your Surfside Kids Dental Team

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