Young girl looking scared sitting in a dentist chair while a woman holds her hand in the background.

Laughing Gas — Children’s Anxiety Is No Laughing Matter

Posted on August 9, 2021

Young girl looking scared sitting in a dentist chair while a woman holds her hand in the background.

Per the American Association of Orthodontists, you should schedule an evaluation for your child to be seen by an orthodontist the moment you see signs of orthodontic problems, especially before they reach seven years of age. Did you just cringe knowing full and well that your child throws a full-blown fit at the thought of seeing a children’s dentist? Some children just have a natural fear of dentists before they have even had any extensive treatments.

You’re not the first parent that has tried to talk down a distraught kid when it comes to visiting a children’s dentist. Children can be triggered by many things, such as a previous negative experience, fear of embarrassment, pain, anesthesia, loss of control, panic, or injections. Thankfully, there are ways to help make a visit to a children’s dentist go smoothly.

The Role of Laughing Gas in Pediatric Dentistry

Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, is an option known to decrease anxiety for children in the dental chair. It is commonly used by a children’s dentist to calm patients so they may comfortably receive much-needed treatments. This type of sedation is one of the lightest forms of sedation that is also recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. It is a top choice for kids during treatment because it has a gentle, short-lived effect.

This type of sedation is also used by orthodontists. Sometimes patients need sedation so they can relax while getting braces. The best orthodontist wants to make it easy for kids to get the straight teeth they need to improve their overall health.

How Does Sedation Dentistry Work in Children?

Laughing gas will put a patient at ease so they stay relaxed during dental procedures. The gas is given using a facial mask. The administered treatment happens as the patient normally inhales and exhales. Once they start comfortably breathing, the laughing gas will take effect. Apprehensive children tend to become less anxious and more comfortable with every breath.

The gas safely goes to the lungs and is circulated through the body by the child’s circulatory system. The calming effect develops with the further intake of the laughing gas. Unlike other types of medications that are metabolized via the liver, laughing gas isn’t metabolized by the body.

When the treatment is finished, there is no extended waiting period for the sedation to wear off. Once the gas is no longer being inhaled, the laughing gas will soon exit your child’s body. A caring childrens dentist will give your child plenty of time to breathe 100% oxygen so the nitrous oxide is completely flushed from their system. It is okay for their routine activities to continue after using this type of sedation.

There Are Precautions That Can Be Taken

Laughing gas does not typically have any negative side effects. Only a very small percentage of children have had signs of vomiting and nausea. Your child does not have to suffer from either symptom. Make sure they do not visit the ortho for orthodontic treatment with a full stomach. So, no big meals before an appointment. You may also want to avoid feeding them greasy foods and dairy two hours before their visit, as well.

Are You Still Wondering if Laughing Gas Is Right for Your Kid?

It is natural for you to be concerned for your child’s safety. Their medical history, treatment needs, and anxiety level will all be taken into consideration for sedation dentistry. Exemplary dentists and orthodontists take great care in determining whether laughing gas is the right option for their patients. If your child isn’t a good candidate for laughing gas, other methods for calming are available.

Does Laughing Gas Really Make Kids Laugh?

On a much lighter note, does laughing gas really make kids laugh? Only an extremely small percentage of patients laugh. A few giggles may escape some children, but it is a good problem to have. Lowering the level of the gas also lowers the threshold for the giggles.

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