Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is most often used for children who are mildly or moderately anxious or nervous. It eases their fears so that they can relax and receive treatment comfortably and safely. Nitrous oxide is administered by placing a small mask over your child’s nose. Your child will be asked to breathe through his or her nose and not through the mouth. As the gas begins to work, the child becomes calm, although he or she is still awake and can talk with the dentist. When the gas is turned off, the effects of sedation wear off almost immediately. As the child gets older and becomes more comfortable with the dentist, nitrous oxide may not be needed.
Nitrous oxide is always delivered mixed with oxygen. To prevent overdose, nitrous oxide machines are designed to stop the flow of nitrous oxide if the oxygen concentration drops below 30 percent.
When the treatment has been completed, the nitrous oxide is turned off and pure oxygen is delivered for 5 to 10 minutes to help flush the child’s body of the gas. The effects of nitrous oxide should disappear as oxygen is breathed.
Some conditions may prevent the administration of laughing gas and they include the following:
Respiratory tract infections – The treatment may be rescheduled if the child cannot breathe properly and has blocked nasal passages preventing proper inhalation of gases.
Claustrophobia – Some children exhibit their fears of confinement at an early age.The facial mask and the scavenger system, used in Nitrous Oxide administration, may not be the best venue of sedation.
Ear and eye surgeries – As the oral region is closely related to all other areas of the head, children will require a release from their medical doctor to continue any dental treatment post-surgery related to ears or eyes.
Pulmonary diseases – Bronchial issues will most likely inhibit the patient from proper inhalation and exhalation of the administered gases. The illness may enlarge or narrow the airways and may have to be treated before visiting the dentist.