Can Nitrous Oxide Help My Child’s Dental Anxiety?

Even though modern dentistry is associated with a much higher level of comfort than years ago, thanks to advanced methods and pain relief, many patients — children and adults alike — still feel great anxiety at the thought of visiting the dentist. 

Children have a harder time because whether they’re visiting Expressions in Dentistry for a filling, a routine checkup, or something else, they simply don’t have the tools that many adults have to self-soothe. It’s critical that patients stay still during their visit, and that, too, is more of a challenge for kids.

Because the superior Expressions in Dentistry team members approach their work with patients with sensitivity and empathy, they’ve made it a point to offer assistance for patients who experience dental anxiety

Options that are successful for many include IV conscious sedation, in which an intravenous drip puts the patient into a deeply relaxed state, and nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas.”

Nitrous oxide is less invasive than IV conscious sedation since no skin prick is required, and it’s often what we use to help our littlest patients come through procedures successfully.

Understandably, many parents ask whether this treatment is safe for their child and if it really helps.

Dental anxiety in children

Children feel anxious about going to the dentist for many reasons. They may have had a negative experience in the past (or perceived a standard experience as negative), they might have heard a friend or family member’s story about an unpleasant dental experience, or perhaps they have a fear of getting a cavity. 

Other fear-inducing factors include sensory issues, like bristling at the sound of dental tools like drills, the smell of the dental office, or even disliking what the office looks like. 

It helps when parents prepare their children well for their visit to our office, which involves talking about what to expect, encouraging them to bring along a favorite toy or stuffed animal, and even reading a book about going to the dentist. It’s also a good idea to encourage your child about taking great care of their teeth, and that brushing and flossing are activities they should feel proud about. 

How nitrous oxide can help your child get through a dental visit

Fortunately, nitrous oxide is perfectly safe for your child and can go a long way in comforting them during a dreaded dental visit. We also take every opportunity when we treat children to explain what’s going to happen during their visit before we get started, so they aren’t left wondering, which can stoke fear. 

Since kids have great imaginations, it’s also possible to pretend something fantastic (like being an astronaut or scuba diver) when they contemplate getting the mask placed over their noses, so the experience of getting the nitrous oxide isn’t scary.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has declared nitrous oxide use for children safe and reports that pediatric patients often even feel enthusiastic about it. In addition to easing fear and anxiety about going to the dentist, nitrous oxide administration can:

Developing a good feeling about going to the dentist can help your child throughout their lives and make them less likely to put off avoiding dental treatment. 

Nitrous oxide has the desired effect for calming patients quickly once it’s administered, and your child is back to normal quickly after we stop treatment and start giving them oxygen after their procedure.

We hope that as a parent you feel confident in counting on us for providing the safest treatment possible for your child and helping them build confidence and good feelings around coming to see us. 

Contact us to learn more about helping your child have an easier time at the dentist or to make an appointment by calling our E. Bidwell Street office at 916-983-6767, or feel free to book one online.

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