Children are constantly learning, and through their experiences developing a unique view of the world around them. Early formative experiences, such as visits to the dentist, can impact the way in which they view dentistry in the future. If a child is highly uncooperative, overly anxious or fearful, or just in need of extensive treatment or surgery which cannot be dealt with using minimally invasive dentistry methods, the use of general anesthesia can help.
Hospital dentistry will minimize medicinal risk and protect your child’s developing mind by inhibiting the formation of negative associations between painful or scary procedures and the treatment of their dental problems. Depending on your child’s age, anxiety level, severity of dental disease, and other factors, dentistry with general anesthesia may be your child's best choice.
Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, can be a great option to complete your child's dental treatment. Depending on a child's age, the extent of their treatment needs, and their ability and willingness to cooperate, this safe and effective modality can allow us to provide their care in our office and avoid deep sedation in the hospital setting.
A little extra info about laughing gas: It is a colorless, slightly sweet-smelling gas that is very safe and tolerated well by most children. The nitrous oxide/oxygen mixture is inhaled via a nasal mask and takes effect after approximately 5 minutes.
Nitrous oxide in the dental office is never used as a general anesthetic, and it is not intended to put a child “to sleep”. Depending on the procedure, local anesthetic may still be necessary. Nitrous oxide can decrease fear, anxiety, apprehension, hyperactive gag reflex and pain sensations. It can also produce sensations of euphoria, drowsiness, warmth, and tingling of the hands and feet.
Since nitrous oxide generally provides a pleasant sensation, it enables children to remain relaxed longer for their dental treatment. Uncommon side effects may include nausea, and/or vomiting (0.5%). To help minimize side effects, we recommend that your child not eat 2 hours prior to their appointment, however, NPO status is not required and does not pose a safety risk, since protective reflexes are still intact. It's just that it's less unpleasant if the last meal is not regurgitated, if your child happens to get nauseated and vomits.
Recovery from nitrous oxide sedation is fast. The effects of the gas are gone a few minutes after it's turned off, and your child will be back to normal. However, some children may appear a little bit withdrawn or sleepy after treatment. This is a natural reaction, much like waking from a nap, but there are no restrictions on their activities.
Have questions about sedation dentistry or hospital dentistry in Rockville? Get answers!
Not necessarily. Some situations require that a child be treated under general anesthesia, and most dental offices do not have the equipment or the certification to carry that out. Some children may have coping or cooperation issues, an exceedingly complex procedure, or could just be too young to handle the treatment they require.
Dr. Ball’s commitment to helping children does not stop at the doors of her dental practice. A portion of the proceeds from every new patient visit will be donated to St. Jude's in order to support the fight to end childhood cancer.