Inhalation Sedation For Children

What is inhalation sedation?

Inhalation sedation involves breathing in what we call ‘happy gas’ or 'laughing gas' (nitrous oxide and oxygen) through a small nose hood, this quickly leads to a pleasant, relaxed feeling. Nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen is the most commonly used inhalation sedation in dentistry and is excellent for providing minimal sedation for apprehensive dental patients. Children are sedated but still conscious and do not fall asleep.

Inhalation sedation is very safe. It works quickly, is reversible, can be adjusted in various concentrations and is non allergenic.

Why is nitrous oxide inhalation used in children's dentistry?

It is available for children who are anxious and cannot receive their dental treatment using local anaesthetic alone.

Inhalation Sedation is one of the simplest ways to make dental treatment as easy and as comfortable as possible. Inhalation sedation does not replace local anaesthetic but it makes the experience more pleasant.

Which children can benefits from inhalation sedation?

Children with mild to moderate anxiety or a gag reflex that interferes with dental care. Children with special needs can also benefit. Your dentist at Bulter Dental will assess your child’s needs and explain the treatment plan. Your child must be willing to co-operate for inhalation sedation to be useful. At the initial consult appointment we will explain the procedure and show your child the nasal hood. This is a great opportunity to ask questions about the procedure. We will provide you with some pre op instructions and a consent form which will need to be signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Inhalation sedation may not be suitable if your child:

  • is unable to breathe through their nose
  • has blocked or infected sinuses or ears
  • has severe anxiety or behavioural difficulties
  • has certain medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

How is the procedure carried out?

Most often the first visit will introduce your child to the dentist and the treatment they need. The dentist will explain and show your child what is involved.

Depending on your child’s willingness, the dentist will try the small nose piece on them and describe how the ‘happy air’ will make them feel. A short procedure may be carried out if the child feels comfortable.

If we think your child is unhappy with the treatment at any stage, we will stop it.

Tips for Parents - before and during treatment

  • Speak positively about your child’s dental care and have confidence in your child’s ability to cope.
  • Bring your child to the appointment and stay until it is over.
  • Ideally, avoid bringing other children to the appointment, as they may distract an already nervous child.
  • Let your dentist and the dental nurse talk to your child before and during dental treatment. This helps in relaxing your child and also avoids confusion. You are welcome to ask questions or give your comments at other times in the dental surgery.
  • Let your child eat and drink as normal, but avoid giving them a heavy meal before the appointment this reduce the chance of feeling nauseous.
  • Give your child any medication as normal.
  • Please remove any varnish from your child’s nails.
  • Please cancel the appointment if your child has a cold or a blocked nose on the day of the appointment.

After treatment

Once treatment is over and ‘happy gas’ is stopped, most children feel back to normal within 5 or 10 minutes. Your child may feel a little tired, however, so you should supervise any activities following this visit. Have your child rest at home afterwards and avoid letting them do any physical activity for the rest of the day.

Your dentist at Butler Dental may also have used a local anaesthetic. Your child’s cheeks, lips and tongue may remain numb for up to 4 hours afterwards. It is important to continue to remind your child not to chew the cheeks, lips or tongue during this time.

Are there any after-effects?

Once the gas is turned off, its effects wear off very quickly. Patients are given 100% oxygen for 3 mins after the mixture of gas is turned off. This helps eliminate the gases out of a patient's body and they fully recovery from being sedated.

Normally there are no lasting effects from the use of gas. Children may feel nauseous or vomit, but this is very rare.


Australian Dental Association Guidelines

Inhalation Sedation Infomation for Parents