Nitrous oxide is commonly known as laughing gas. Pediatric dentists use it to help children who are a bit anxious. We find it works well for older children.
What is Laughing Gas?
It is a colourless gas with a slightly sweet smell and taste. It is called laughing gas because of its euphoric effects. It relaxes and calms down anxious children. The name is a bit misleading as not all children laugh out loud. It helps children feel much more relaxed and comfortable in a possibly unpleasant situation such as dental treatment for cavity filling or crowns.
How does Laughing Gas Work?
Laughing gas is connected to a mask, which sits on the child’s nose. The child has to be cooperative enough to let the nose mask stay on their face. We call it a spaceship mask or elephant trunk.
What does My Child Feel?
Your child will start to feel hands and feet getting tingly. Then, they will feel light and floaty. Your child will stay awake and be able to carry on a conversation. It helps children have a positive experience at the dentist.
Is Laughing Gas Safe?
Laughing gas has an excellent safety record for the past 240 years it has been used in medicine and dentistry. As soon as we turn off the laughing gas, most of the gas is gone and collected by our suction system. Your child will feel back to normal within minutes and will be able to go home shortly after. Nausea and vomiting is the most common side effect. For this reason, we ask that your child does not eat or drink for 2 hours before the dental appointment.
What if Laughing Gas doesn’t Work?
The child has to have an open airway to breathe in the laughing gas in order for it to work. If your child has a runny or plugged nose, the laughing gas will not work. Laughing gas is also insufficient for very anxious children. They will need something stronger to help them feel relaxed. The available options at Playtime Pediatric Dentistry will include dental treatment with oral sedation or getting put to sleep under general anesthesia.
For more information on laughing gas, check out this brochure from American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Dr. Ella Choi is a certified specialist in pediatric dentistry serving South Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Aldergrove in Beautiful British Columbia.