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Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas) and Its Use in Dental Care

Healthy teeth smiling girl

Nitrous Oxide or “Laughing Gas” is a safe, effective technique to calm a child's fear of the dental visit.

Nitrous oxide is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. When inhaled, it is absorbed by the body and has a calming effect. Normal breathing eliminates the nitrous oxide/oxygen mix from the body.

Nitrous oxide is delivered through a sterilized nosepiece placed over the nose. After your child is made comfortable in the chair, he/she will smell a pleasant aroma and experience a sense of well being and relaxation after approximately 3-5 minutes. If your child is worried by the sights, sounds, or sensations of dental treatment, he or she may respond more positively with the use of nitrous oxide. During the administration of nitrous oxide, your child remains fully conscious and keeps all natural reflexes. After the treatment is completed, pure oxygen will be administered to ensure that all nitrous oxide is cleared from your child’s system. After a few minutes, we will sit your child up and ensure that he/she can walk and is not experiencing any dizziness. You may notice that your child is a little groggy afterward. Your child will be fine to return to normal activities within 30 minutes after the appointment.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, nitrous oxide is "very safe" and "perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry." It is non-addictive, mild, easily taken, and quickly eliminated by the body.

Nitrous oxide is not effective for some children, especially those who have severe anxiety, nasal congestion, extensive treatment needs, or discomfort wearing a nasal mask. The team at Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry can offer other sedation methods that are right for your child.

“My son is almost 2 ½ and can be very apprehensive about unfamiliar places and people. We talked about the dentist before going so he knew what to expect, but I think the hygienist did an excellent job of telling him what she was doing and offering the right amount of distraction. He did fantastic this visit! Thank you to the staff at Tiny Teeth for making my son's checkup a great one.”

— Emily E.