The pediatric dentist may recommend nitrous oxide (more commonly known as laughing gas) for children who exhibit particular signs of nervousness or anxiety. Nitrous oxide is delivered via a mask, which is placed over the child’s nose. Nitrous oxide is always combined with oxygen meaning that the child can comfortably breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Laughing gas relaxes children extremely quickly, and can produce happy, euphoric behavior. It is also quick acting, painless to deliver, and wears off within a matter of minutes. Before removing the mask completely, the pediatric dentist delivers regular oxygen for several minutes, to ensure the nitrous oxide is eliminated from the child’s body. On rare occasions, nitrous oxide may cause nausea. For this reason, most pediatric dentists suggest minimal food intake prior to the appointment.
General anesthesia is a management technique that uses medications to allow your child to go to sleep while receiving dental treatment.
Patients requiring anesthesia will be treated at Fair Oaks Hospital or Virginia Hospital center. Anesthesia is administered by a pediatric anesthesiologist and the dental work is completed by two pediatric dentists who have specialty training in treating children under general anesthesia. Although there is some risk associated with general anesthesia, it is safe when administered by an appropriately trained physician. Candidates for this procedure might include those with severe anxiety, special needs or those with extensive dental decay. We will discuss in detail the risks and benefits involved with general anesthesia before this procedure.