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  • Writer's pictureGreater Houston Pediatric Dentistry

Laughing Gas, Sedation, and Pediatric Dentistry

When children are very anxious, they may lack the cooperative nature that a dentist requires to complete a treatment on them. In this case, sedation may be required to relax the child. As well, sedation dentistry may be beneficial for special needs patients in order to create a safe dental environment to complete the oral procedure.

child with oral sedation at pediatric dentist

What is Laughing Gas?

Nitrous oxide, which is commonly called “laughing gas,” is a type of sedation that a dentist for children may use. It is a conscious sedative, meaning it does not put the child to sleep; it is mild in form and very safe. It helps a little patient to relax during their dental treatment so that their safety is not compromised while the pediatric dentist performs a procedure on their teeth.

A pediatric dentist administers the nitrous oxide to a child with a mixture of oxygen. It has a calming effect. Once the treatment is completed, the laughing gas is turned off and the child breathes in oxygen for at least five minutes to help remove any remaining nitrous oxide. A pediatric dentist is well-equipped to complete this procedure and provides both pre- and post-sedation guidelines.

Other Types of Sedation

Besides laughing gas, there are other kinds of sedation that a pediatric dentist may use when treating children’s teeth. These types include IV sedation and general anesthetic. While laughing gas is a type of mild sedation, the other types are moderate and deep in their level of sedation. Under general anesthesia patients are completely unconscious and it is done in a hospital setting where Dr Luu can go together with a patient.

At each of our 4 greater Houston offices we offer IV sedation which is a conscious type of deep sedation.  IV sedation is most useful for relaxing a child who is extremely anxious, has an intense gag reflex, low pain threshold, lengthy procedure ahead, has had traumatic dental experiences, or who has special needs. The child will stay conscious, will be able to respond to requests from the dentist but may not be able to remember much about what was happening and may describe as he/she was asleep.  Once the little patient is in a state of deep relaxation, a pediatric dentist can safely carry out the oral treatment without risks to the child.

The American Dental Association endorses the use of sedation, and a pediatric dentist has the special training to understand how to administer sedatives to children and special needs patients in the safest ways. It is important that you tell your pediatric dentist what medications or medical treatments your child is taking before they receive a sedative.

If you have questions about sedation, our dentists will answer them prior to its administration. As well, we encourage you to contact us if you have new inquiries after the dental treatment.


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