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At Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry, one of our top goals is to provide a comfortable, safe environment for young children to receive oral care. We know that a visit to the dentist is often associated with negative feelings for lots of children (and many adults as well). Our pediatric dentistry services are tailored to making children feel as at-home as possible, whether it’s their first visit or their tenth.

Unfortunately, there are cases where child anxiety is so significant that it requires some additional resources. One such resource is the use of nitrous oxide, a safe and effective sedative that helps children stay calm at the dentist’s office and may also help children who have a sensitive gag reflex. Here are some basics on nitrous oxide, including some information that should help resolve any concerns you as a parent may have about its safety or usefulness.

Nitrous Oxide Basics

Nitrous oxide is actually a term generally used to describe a combination of oxygen and nitrous. It’s most commonly applied using a fitted mask that’s placed over the patient’s nose, allowing them to breathe in the gas naturally. When treatment is finished, the patient will breathe oxygen as the nitrous is eliminated, leaving no residual effects.

Safety Concerns

Some parents hear the term “nitrous oxide” and are concerned about how it will impact the safety or health of their child, however you can put your mind at ease.  Nitrous oxide is possibly the single safest sedative format available.  It works quickly and has easily reversible qualities that ensure your child will never be stuck in a sedated state for a long period of time following treatment.

In addition, nitrous oxide is non-allergenic and generally easily tolerated by most children. It will not put your child to sleep, they will be awake and able to respond to prompting – while simply not feeling the pain or discomfort of a given treatment.  They will stay more relaxed.

Effectiveness Across Various Samples

Every child is different, and there may be some children for whom nitrous oxide is not effective. Situations where it might not be as effective are; cases where kids have severe anxiety, have significant nasal congestion, or those who struggle with comfort issues while wearing a mask. Your dentist will go over the relevant factors to determine if there are any other issues that may prevent your child from the use of nitrous oxide.

Preparation Tips

A few basic tips to consider if you’re preparing your child for an upcoming nitrous oxide-related treatment:

  • Breathing conditions: If your child has any congestion or other respiratory conditions that may make breathing through their nose difficult, inform your dentist in advance.
  • Medications: Also inform your dentist of any medications your child takes before nitrous oxide is given.
  • Child preparation: If your child is old enough to understand, you may choose to prepare them for the feeling they’re about to experience. Most kids find this feeling relaxing.  They may also feel a light tingle in their arms or legs, which shouldn’t bother them.

If you have any questions about nitrous oxide and how it may affect your child, or to learn more about any of our kids dental services, speak to the staff at Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry today.