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Why Your Kid’s Dentist May Use Laughing Gas

girl with cap laughing

Nitrous Oxide. You may have never heard of it before, but you likely know it’s more commonly used name: “laughing gas.” There are a great many misconceptions about what laughing gas is, as well as what it actually does to a patient. The mental image of a patient, sitting in a dentist chair laughing uncontrollably isn’t at all accurate. However, if your kid’s dentist suggests using laughing gas, this may be the exact thought that crosses your mind. No wonder so many parents are initially opposed to the use of nitrous oxide!

Toothfairy Pediatric Dental, the leading dentist for kids in Reno, uses laughing gas in certain situations for our patients. However, before utilizing sedation dentistry, we always strive to educate our young patients and their parents about why laughing gas can be so helpful.

Our dentists have compiled some commonly asked questions to help dispel the myths of nitrous oxide, as well as inform you of how your child will likely react when they utilize it during a pediatric dental visit. Once you learn the facts about laughing gas, you’ll see why it can be an excellent choice for young patients.

What Is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a naturally-occurring gas that has been used in the field of dentistry for well over 100 years. It’s an extremely safe sedative that allows a patient to remain awake, yet calm during their dental procedure. The dentist controls the dosage of the gas given to the patient, and the effects of laughing gas are short lived once their procedure is over.

Because of the name “laughing gas,” many people have the idea that when someone breathes in nitrous oxide, they’ll begin to laugh uncontrollably. This is one of the greatest misconceptions about laughing gas. Consider this, if a patient is laughing uncontrollably in a dentist’s chair, a dentist couldn’t safely do their work! Without a doubt, nitrous oxide can give a patient a little case of the giggles or make them feel silly, but the dentist can easily change the ratio of laughing gas the kid breathes in, allowing them the perfect dosage for their comfort.

What To Do Before Using Laughing Gas?

If your kid’s dentist has recommended the use of laughing gas for their next visit, there are several things you can do to help your child prepare for sedation:

  • Talk with them before the visit. You don’t want your child to be surprised when the dentist mentions the use of sedation. Talk with them before the visit about how laughing gas works. This will help give them reassurance before they see the dentist.
  • Limit food and drink. On the day your child visits the dentist, limit the amount of food and drink they have before their procedure. In the unlikely event that sedation makes them feel queasy, it will be best that their stomach is mostly empty.
  • Review your child’s medical history. Before any dentist or doctor uses sedation of any kind, they’ll ask several questions to ensure that sedation can be used safely. If your child has had any issues with any sedation in the past, not just laughing gas, make sure you mention this to the pediatric dentist when they ask.
  • Dress your child in loose clothing. Your child will have a few wires hooked up to them during the procedure to monitor vital signs. Dressing them in loose-fitting clothing will make them more comfortable when the wires are connected.

What Happens When Laughing Gas Is Used?

laughing gas at pediatric dentist

Once your child sits in the chair, the dentist will begin monitoring their vital signs to ensure your child’s safety throughout the procedure. Although the use of laughing gas is extremely safe, your pediatric dentist will take every precaution to make sure there are no unintended side effects.

When it’s time for sedation, the dentist will place a mask over the child’s mouth and ask them to breathe deeply. Within seconds, the laughing gas will begin to do its work. As the dentist starts the procedure, your child will not feel any pain and will be in complete comfort. It’s really that simple!

After your kid’s dentist is done with the procedure, they will once again place a mask over your child’s mouth and ask them to breathe deeply. This time, they’ll be breathing in pure oxygen, which will help remove the laughing gas from their system. Within a few minutes, they’ll be back on their feet and ready to go home.

How To Care For Your Child After Laughing Gas?

When your kid’s dentist is done administering laughing gas, your child will feel a bit fuzzy for a few minutes. They could even be a bit grouchy or slow as they re-acclimate to their surroundings. To help reassure them, it might be a good idea to have a special blanket, toy, or teddy bear at the ready to give them as they come back around.

The effects of laughing gas will be short-lived, but in rare cases, the feeling of fuzziness can last for a couple of hours. If your child is hungry and doesn’t feel queasy, this is a good time to give them something to eat. However, depending on the dental work that was done, you’ll likely need to limit them to soft foods. Ask your dentist for more specific at-home care instructions.

Sedation Dentistry At Toothfairy Pediatric Dental

If your child is anxious about an upcoming dental procedure, they may be the perfect candidate for sedation dentistry. If your kid needs laughing gas, you’ll want a dentist who can treat your child with both skill and compassion. For those who live in or near Reno, the choice is an easy one: Toothfairy Pediatric Dental.

Dr. Ben Salar and his compassionate team have been treating children with safe, effective sedation dentistry for many years. We’d be glad to give you more information about laughing gas and its use at our office. Contact us today for more information.