Some children are given nitrous oxide/oxygen, or what you may know as laughing gas, to relax them for their dental treatment. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is given through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child’s nose, allowing them to relax, but without putting them to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recognizes this technique as a very safe, effective technique to use for treating children’s dental needs. The gas is mild, easily taken, then with normal breathing, it is quickly eliminated from the body. It is non-addictive. While inhaling nitrous oxide/oxygen, your child remains fully conscious and keeps all natural reflexes.
Prior to your appointment:
- Please inform us of any change to your child’s health and/or medical condition.
- Tell us about any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child. It may limit the effectiveness of the nitrous oxide/oxygen.
- Let us know if your child is taking any medication on the day of the appointment.
- It’s best to avoid eating a large meal for at least two hours prior to the use of Nitrous Oxide. Some people, although very rarely, may experience nausea or even less often, vomiting.
To keep your child safe and comfortable during a dental procedure, Dr. Wasdin might recommend the use of general anesthesia in the operating room at our local hospital, East Georgia Regional Medical Center. General anesthesia may be used if your child has special needs like inability to cooperate safely for dental treatment, extensive or complicated procedures that will take a long time to complete, or needs several procedures done all at the same time. A medical anesthesiologist —a doctor who specializes in anesthesia — will give your child the medications that will make him or her sleep soundly during the procedure. General anesthesia makes your child’s whole body go to sleep. This would be the same as if he/she was having their tonsils removed, ear tubes or hernia repaired. Most pediatric medical literature places the risk of a serious reaction in the range of 1 in 25,000 to 1 in 200,000, far better than the assumed risk of even driving a car daily. The inherent risks if this is not chosen are multiple appointments, potential for physical restraint to complete treatment, and possible emotional and/ or physical injury to your child in order to complete their dental treatment. The risks of NO treatment include tooth pain, infection, swelling, spread of new decay, damage to their developing adult teeth and possible hospitalization from a life threatening dental infection. Using General Anesthesia your child will feel no pain during the procedure, nor have any memory of it.
If your child would benefit from dental treatment under general anesthesia, Dr. Wasdin will discuss this with you in more detail at your appointment.
Prior to your appointment:
- Please notify us of any change in your child’s health. Do not bring your child for treatment with a fever, ear infection or cold. Should your child become ill, contact us to see if it is necessary to postpone the appointment.
- You must tell the doctor of any drugs that your child is currently taking and any drug reactions and/or change in medical history.
- Please dress your child in loose fitting, comfortable clothing.
- Your child should not have milk or solid food after midnight prior to the scheduled procedure and clear liquids ONLY (water, apple juice, Gatorade) for up to 6 hours prior to the appointment.
- The child’s parent or legal guardian must remain at the hospital or surgical site waiting room during the complete procedure.
After the appointment:
- Your child will be drowsy and will need to be monitored very closely. Keep your child away from areas of potential harm.
- If your child wants to sleep, place them on their side with their chin up. Wake your child every hour and encourage them to have something to drink in order to prevent dehydration. At first it is best to give your child sips of clear liquids to prevent nausea. The first meal should be light and easily digestible.
- If your child vomits, help them bend over and turn their head to the side to insure that they do not inhale the vomit.
- Prior to leaving the hospital/outpatient center, you will be given a detailed list of "Post-Op Instructions" and an emergency contact number if needed.
Referral for Conscious Sedation
If Dr. Wasdin decides that some kind of sedation is necessary to safely complete your child’s dental treatment, but for any number of reasons, Nitrous Oxide or General Anesthesia will not work for you or your child, then Dr. Wasdin may refer you to another provider for Conscious Sedation. Conscious Sedation will provide a deeper level of sedation than Nitrous Oxide, but will not put your child completely asleep like General Anesthesia. This type of sedation is performed in an office setting by an Oral Surgeon, Pediatric Dentist or another Anesthesia Provider.