Why Dentists Use Laughing Gas for Treatment

The idea of a dental procedure might make both you and your little one feel nervous, and that’s totally normal! At Coastal Kids Dental and Braces, our mission is to make you and your child as comfortable and relaxed as possible, and one way we achieve this is through the use of laughing gas.

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is a mild sedative that is inhaled through the nose to manage mild pain and help relax patients during a variety of dental procedures. Dentists use nitrous oxide to place the patient in a euphoric state during a dental procedure that eases anxiety, mild pain, and even the patient’s gag reflex.

What is the Difference Between Sedation and Laughing Gas?

Although laughing gas is a type of sedation, there are some distinct differences between the use of nitrous oxide and true sedation dentistry in a dental office. Laughing gas is administered by inhaling nitrous oxide through a small mask covering the nose. It is used to settle nervous patients and keep them in a euphoric and lightly sedated state for mild pain management, and the effects wear off within minutes of having the mask removed.

Sedation dentistry, on the other hand, is typically administered by IV, puts the patient in a deep sleep, and can be used for more invasive procedures. Since the patient is completely asleep, intravenous sedation requires a longer recovery period for the effects of sedation to wear off.

Both laughing gas and sedation dentistry are extremely useful for dental procedures, and both have their appropriate time and place in dental care. If your child needs a dental procedure, your pediatric dentist will discuss the appropriate and safest option based on your child’s needs.

Benefits of Using Nitrous Oxide

There are many great benefits to using nitrous oxide in kids’ dentistry, and your child’s pediatric dental team will ensure your child is safe and relaxed during the procedure. Here are some of the benefits of laughing gas:

  • The amount of nitrous oxide being used can easily be adjusted during the procedure. Our dental team will monitor your child to make sure they are getting the appropriate amount of laughing gas.
  • Laughing gas works fast and is eliminated quickly! The onset of laughing gas is approximately 2 to 3 minutes, and once your child’s procedure is over, it only takes a few minutes to reverse the effects once the mask is removed.
  • Nitrous oxide is safe and effective for young children, patients with disabilities, and kids with anxiety.
  • With laughing gas, the patient remains awake and can hear and respond to their dentist throughout the procedure.

Side Effects of Laughing Gas

Most patients do not experience side effects of nitrous oxide, but it is important to know potential side effects following nitrous oxide inhalation so you can monitor your child accordingly. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, headaches, nausea, and disorientation are some potential side effects to be aware of following your child’s procedure using laughing gas.

To avoid headaches, our dentists will use oxygen to help reverse the effects of nitrous oxide after a procedure. Our dentists also recommend avoiding a large meal for up to 3 hours after inhaling laughing gas to avoid nausea or vomiting. Talk to your child’s dentist about these potential side effects to help ease any stress about your child’s procedure.

When is Laughing Gas Used?

Laughing gas may be used for a variety of treatments – from dental cleanings to root canals and more! Since laughing gas helps the patient be in a relaxed, euphoric state, it is helpful for even the simplest procedures. If your child is exceptionally nervous about going to the dentist, laughing gas can allow them to easily navigate a dental cleaning, and have them feeling well and going back to school right after the appointment.

Laughing gas can also be used for longer procedures to keep kids comfortable for a greater period of time or help manage a sensitive gag reflex. The calming effects of laughing gas are also great for kids with special health care needs. For true sedation, laughing gas is often used to relax the patient prior to the procedure and administration of deep sedation through an IV.

Is Laughing Gas Safe for Children?

Laughing gas is considered safe for children by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and is tolerated well by kids when used in the dentist office. Laughing gas is administered by trained professionals and your child is monitored throughout the entire procedure for their safety. Laughing gas is simple, effective, and safe for your child, and your child’s pediatric dentist will make sure you and your child feel comfortable and stress-free before the procedure begins!

If You Have Questions About Laughing Gas Dentistry, Call Today!

Contact one of our 9 convenient Charleston locations today if you have questions or concerns about the use of laughing gas. Our talented and passionate dental team is here to make sure both you and your child feel safe and happy at every visit!

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