Q: What is Nitrous Oxide?
Nitrous oxide/oxygen (N2O-O2) is a blend of two gases -- oxygen and nitrous oxide. A fitted mask is placed over the nose and the patient continues to breathe normally. At the end of treatment, it is eliminated after a short period of breathing oxygen and has no lingering effects.
Q: How will my child feel when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen?
Your child will smell a faint, sweet aroma and experience a sense of well-being and relaxation. Since it may produce a feeling of giddiness, it is often called “laughing gas.” Children sometimes report their arms and legs feel “tingly.” It raises the pain threshold and may even make the time appear to pass quickly. 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/oxygen.
Q: How safe is nitrous oxide/oxygen?
Very safe. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry. It is well tolerated. It has a rapid onset, is reversible, can be adjusted in various concentrations and is non-allergenic. Your child remains fully conscious — keeps all natural reflexes — when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen. He/she will be capable of responding to a question or request.
Q: Will nitrous oxide/oxygen work for all children?
Dr Ly and his staff all know and understand that all children are not alike, so every service is tailored to your child as an individual. Nitrous oxide/oxygen may not be effective for some children, especially those who have severe anxiety, nasal congestion, or discomfort wearing a nasal mask. Dr. Ly will review your child’s medical history, level of anxiety, and dental treatment needs and inform you if nitrous oxide/oxygen is recommended for your child.
What to expect for the appointment?
The night before the appointment, our office will telephone you to review per-operatory instructions.
At the time of appointment, the parent brings the child into the treatment room. A breathing mask will then be placed over the child's mouth and nose. It will take about 15 seconds and when the child reaches the correct amount of relaxation, the parents will return to the waiting room and the anesthesiologist will painlessly attach child to monitoring equipment and deepen the child's sedation with the gas. Once at the correct sedation level, the anesthesiologist will insert a breathing tube to ensure respiration and prevent any materials in the throat and mouth from entering the asleep child's lungs.
After the anesthetic is underway, Dr. Ly will begin to work on your child. Any area that could be uncomfortable afterwards is usually made numb by the placement of local anesthesia. As the child is asleep, they will not feel the shot go into the mouth, but they will enjoy the benefit of the numbness after they wake up from anesthesia
At the end of the procedure, Dr. Ly will meet with the parents in the waiting area to discuss what was done and if there are any questions or concerns. During that time, the anesthesiologist will continue to monitor the child, and will reunite everyone as soon as he or she begins to wake up. Although the child may be grumpy for a little while after coming out of anesthesia, there are no long term side effects.
Children often cry when waking up from anesthesia. The reason for this is usually they are disoriented emerging from anesthesia and they were very anxious entering anesthesia. Part of anesthesia helps with the suppression of inhibitions which partially explains the increase in emotions we see as children "wake up". This will resolve when they are reassured by their parents. Children usually go home and nap for a few hours. Parents need to keep an eye on them for a while once they get home.
Although IV sedation or general anesthesia can be scary, it can help with a child's anxiety, making his or her appointment more comfortable and safe.