Dental appointments can be scary at any age, often times they prove to be especially frightening for children. In a picture-perfect world, every child would look forward to their dental appointments, but unfortunately, we do not live in an idealistic world where all children are eager to visit the dentist. In fact, often times children experience anxiety and are fearful or worried before a dental appointment. Dr. Matt understands that your child may not share our team’s enthusiasm for their oral health. The good news is, we now offer nitrous oxide sedation which aids in relieving any anxiety your child may experience. Thus making his/her dental visits less stressful for both you and your child.

Nitrous oxide is a type of dental analgesia used by dentists across the country to alleviate anxiety associated with dental procedures.  Also known as ‘laughing gas,’ nitrous oxide is highly effective for giving children a sense of comfort and/or happiness during their dental experience. Nitrous oxide is a colorless gas that has a sweet scent. It is administered by inhalation through the nose.. With informed consent from a patient’s parent(s), Dr. Matt will administer and manage nitrous oxide throughout your child’s dental procedure, if indicated. While breathing nitrous oxide, the patient responds normally to verbal commands, all vital signs are stable, there is no significant risk of losing protective reflexes, and the patient is able to return to pre-procedure mobility. Pictured below is an example of a nosepiece that would be used to administer nitrous oxide.

Nitrous oxide sedation isn’t only for anxious children. In fact, nitrous oxide is an excellent option for children whose fear or anxiety would otherwise prevent them from receiving dental care. It is also appropriate for many other reasons, too. For example, a child who has a sensitive gag reflex may feel physically uncomfortable during a necessary dental procedure. In this case, nitrous oxide would likely be indicated to aid in the completion of treatment.  Nitrous oxide sedation would also likely be indicated for children who have emotional or behavioral disorders that make it nearly impossible to remain still in the dental chair throughout their dental visit. Additionally, children with certain health conditions or special needs can also benefit from nitrous oxide sedation.

In accordance with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) the objectives of nitrous oxide inhalation include:

  • reduce or eliminate anxiety;
  • reduce untoward movement and reaction to dental treatment;
  • enhance communication and patient cooperation;
  • raise the pain reaction threshold;
  • increase tolerance for longer appointments;
  • aid in treatment of the mentally/physically disabled or medically compromised patient;
  • reduce gagging;
  • potentiate the effect of sedatives

Although some parents are reluctant to request sedatives for their children, Dr. Matt advises that neglecting oral health could have serious consequences later. Without treatment, something as simple as a cavity could cause your child to develop an infection (abscess), thus becoming quite severe and very painful. The AAPD formally recognizes nitrous oxide sedation as a safe means of administering analgesia to children. It relaxes the central nervous system while causing little effect on respiratory patterns. In fact, the AAPD actually recommends nitrous oxide for reducing dental anxiety in pediatric patients.

Whether your child has special needs, is afraid of the dentist or is simply too active to sit still through dental treatment, nitrous oxide sedation can act as a helpful tool for pediatric dental patients. Therefore giving Dr. Matt and the Southern Indiana Pediatric Dental team an even bigger opportunity to provide quality dental care, in a fun and inviting atmosphere. Dentistry shouldn’t be frightening! To learn more about nitrous oxide sedation dentistry, other forms of sedation dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Matt, contact us at 812-333-KIDS (5437). We welcome new patients of all ages, and look forward to providing an enjoyable, and comfortable dental experience for you and your child.