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It is quite common for children and even teenagers to be afraid of the dentist, which often prevents them from attending their routine appointments and greatly jeopardizes their oral health. At Children’s Dental Zone, we take dental phobia very seriously and offer you the option of sedation dentistry – most commonly, nitrous oxide.
Nitrous oxide, better known as “laughing gas” or “happy air,” is used to help calm a child during their treatment. Laughing gas helps combat low pain tolerance, a strong gag reflex, difficulty sitting still, as well as an overall fear of dental treatments. It is also recommended if your child needs an extensive dental procedure, such as a filling, crown, bridge, root canal, tooth extraction, periodontal treatment or cosmetic procedure. Laughing gas is safe, hypoallergenic, and quickly takes effect.
Prior to bringing your child in for a procedure that is likely to require nitrous oxide, you must inform your dentist of any medications or medical treatments that the child is receiving. We also recommend that you give your child little to no food approximately two hours before the dental visit, because being exposed to nitrous oxide on a full stomach may cause nausea or even vomiting.
When your child comes in for his or her appointment, a mask will be fitted over their nose, and as the child inhales a few times the laughing gas will begin to take effect. Throughout the dental procedure, the child will not experience pain but rather a feeling of happiness and well-being. He or she will also feel as if the procedure lasted mere minutes, even though in some cases entire hours will have passed. While some children report dreaming and/or feeling slight numbness in their limbs, nitrous oxide has no lasting effects.
The use of laughing gas is often referred to as sleep dentistry, yet this term is incorrect: Your child will remain awake throughout the procedure and be able to speak, but he or she will likely not remember many details after the treatment is completed.
Following the procedure, your child must be taken home by a parent or responsible driver who should then stay with the child until the effects of nitrous oxide have fully worn off. While a younger child should always be accompanied by an adult at dental visits regardless of the treatment, this rule applies to teenagers who visit the dentist by taking the bus alone or driving themselves.
For more information on nitrous oxide or sedation dentistry, contact our Alpharetta, GA, dental office today!