The Benefits of Sedation Dentistry for Your Child

Posted .

Happy June!

As summer gets underway, we are really getting booked up! If you are planning on coming in later this summer, please call now to get a good spot (they are all good!). This blog is about Nitrous Oxide.

I was talking to a mom this morning as her daughter happily collected her toy and headed back out to the playroom. Mom couldn’t believe this was the same five-year-old that was in a couple of months ago for two fillings. When they came in last the child was crying and doing her darndest to convince her mother to leave my office. Mom was insistent and made the child lay down so she could use the “goofy gas.” The child fussed, but after a long minute breathed enough nitrous oxide to begin to feel its effects. First, she seemed to forget why she was so fussy, then she seemed to take our suggestions that the “strawberry nose” smelled good after all, and then she thought something was pretty funny. While all this was going on, I was placing the topical anesthesia and doing two injections.

After the injections, we switched her back to 100% oxygen, she got up and got a toy. When she came back after the numbness set in, no problems. Today she was a happy, confident kid in our chair for her six-month checkup. She even asked Mom about getting the gas again.

This scenario plays out in our office every day, over and over. Nitrous Oxide is an inert gas (meaning it does not change or metabolize in the body) that is taken up by the blood from the lungs and delivered to the feel-good receptors in the brain. Children breathing through their nose will begin to feel the effects of pain relief, anxiety control, and time alteration in about 30 seconds. While an adult may associate these feelings with medication or alcohol use, children are totally distracted by that feeling and the dentistry seems to go completely unnoticed. Since Nitrous Oxide is ALWAYS delivered with more Oxygen than room air, the drug is extremely safe and reversible within about 3 minutes.

Many times in the last year, we have been able to complete lots of dentistry, from white fillings to pulpotomies and ceramic crowns in the office with the judicious use of Nitrous Oxide that parents tell me other dentists wanted to use general anesthesia to accomplish. Once a child finds out they will have no pain and will be in the chair for a reasonable amount of time, children down to age three do very well 99% of the time. I have been taking kids to the surgery center for over 20 years, but seldom do I take a healthy child with routine treatment to the OR. Even if the treatment is 10 or more cavities or extractions or root canals over multiple visits, we can accomplish a lot with buy-in by the parents to our technique with Nitrous Oxide. I wonder how parents and pediatric dentists are justifying the risks, recovery, and costs, both direct and indirect to treatment under general anesthesia for routine treatment of healthy children.

For more information on Nitrous Oxide, look to our other blog or give me a shout. I love what I do, and I love helping you raise healthy, happy children. Yours, Dr. Greg.