Sedation Dentistry – Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as ‘laughing gas’ or ‘happy air’, is often used as a conscious sedative during a dental visit. The gas is administered via a nasal mask with a mixture of oxygen and has a calming effect that helps phobic or anxious patients relax during their dental treatment. Because it is a mild sedative, patients are still conscious (awake) and can talk to their dentist during their visit. You need to give consent. After treatment, the nitrous is turned off and oxygen is administered for 2 to 5 minutes to help flush any remaining gas. The effects wear off almost immediately. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects, although some patients may experience minor nausea and constipation. Your dentist will provide you with pre- and post-sedation instructions. Suitable patients will be screened during the consultation visit.
Your child can have a light meal such as cereal, bread or toast and a drink two hours before the procedure.
What to expect
- Nitrous oxide sedation is done in the dental chair. Your child will breathe the sedation gas through a small nosepiece that sits on their nose. It does not cover their mouth.
- The nitrous oxide makes children feel sleepy and relaxed.
- They will still be aware of what is happening around them but will feel more relaxed, dreamy and floaty, warm, have tingling in their hands and feet and may be a bit forgetful. They may not be able to remember the procedure.
- While giving the nitrous oxide, staff will monitor your child’s level of sedation to ensure that they can still cooperate and hold their mouth open.
- Dental treatment will be done in the usual manner. Local anaesthesia may also be used and can be given when the child is sedated.