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Can My Child Have Laughing Gas Before a Dental Procedure?

April 14, 2023 ABC Children's Dentistry

“Laughing gas” is another term for nitrous oxide, a gas that is used to sedate patients during dental procedures.  While laughing gas is considered very safe for patients of all ages, it is important to understand the facts about it before making a decision to allow your child to have nitrous oxide treatment.  Here is an overview of what laughing gas is, how it is administered, the possible side effects, and how to talk to your dentist about nitrous oxide use for your child.

What is Nitrous Oxide or Laughing Gas? 

Dental anesthesia for children ranges from full, general anesthesia given by IV to mild sedation given with oral medication.  Nitrous oxide falls somewhere in the middle of this range; it is simply a gas that is mixed with oxygen that produces a relaxing, happy effect without the grogginess or after effects of general anesthesia.  Many dentists prefer laughing gas, which takes its name from the euphoric feelings it can cause, to heavier anesthetics because the child is still awake and aware during the procedure, but will usually be relaxed and happy. 

How is Laughing Gas or Nitrous Oxide Administered? 

In a dentist’s office, nitrous oxide is administered with a mask and mixed with a large quantity of oxygen.  In reality, the amount of gas is relatively low, especially for children, so the effects do not last very long.  Moments after the gas is turned off, the effects generally wear off and the child feels no further impact.  Oxygen also helps the child avoid possible nausea or other issues that could be a problem with concentrated inhalations of any type of medication or gas. 

What are the Possible Side Effects of Laughing Gas? 

Side effects of nitrous oxide or laughing gas are extremely rare.  In some very uncommon cases, children may experience slight nausea or dizziness that usually goes away as soon as the gas is stopped.  In extremely rare cases, longer-term side effects are technically possible; you can talk to your dentist about these as well.

One of the reasons nitrous oxide is so popular is its low incident rate of side effects, even in very small children.  It is generally considered one of the safest forms of sedation available for dental use. 

Talk To Your Dentist About Laughing Gas or Nitrous Oxide Treatment for Your Child 

Be sure to talk to your child’s dentist about your concern over your child’s need for dental sedation.  There are many options available, and you and your dentist want to choose the right one for your child’s needs.  Laughing gas is often a great option, especially for small children, as it is painless and tends to be less frightening than IV drugs or even oral medication.  However, it may or may not be the best option for your child’s particular dental procedure.  The goal should always be for your child to have a pain- and stress-free dental experience in the safest way possible!

At ABC Children’s Dentistry, our caring staff wants to do what is best for all of our patients.  We want your child to feel relaxed and comfortable whenever he or she has to have a dental procedure done.  We incorporate all types of dental sedation into our practice to give you the best options for your family.  Give us a call today to discuss your child’s next dental procedure!