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You must have heard of the “laughing gas” that leaves people breaking out in a fit of giggles, but did you know that it’s also one of the safest forms of sedation, especially in pediatric dentistry?
Let’s look at how nitrous oxide works when used as a sedative for child dentistry.
Nitrous oxide is a naturally occurring odorless, colorless, and non-flammable gas that has several everyday applications. It’s used as a fuel additive, as a propellant in certain food products, and as a sedative in healthcare.
It has been a useful sedative tool in dentistry for over 150 years as it can have a euphoric feeling on the body. When inhaled, the gas reacts with the brain, altering the pain and pleasure sensation, causing a euphoric feeling. However, the effect of nitrous oxide is short-lived and diminishes quickly once the person stops inhaling the gas.
Nitrous oxide is combined with oxygen and is inhaled by the patient through the nose. The gas is turned on and off during the procedure allowing dentists to keep patients calm without losing consciousness.
The use of nitrous oxide helps with pain management and allows patients to feel relaxed, which enables the dentist to conveniently complete the dental procedure without causing any pain or inconvenience to the patient.
Moreover, the effects are relatively short-lived, which allows the patient to quickly regain alertness (unlike other forms of sedatives used in dentistry), making it one of the safest sedatives, especially for pediatric dentistry. While there are a few side effects of using nitrous oxide in children's dentistry, including shivering, nausea, and vomiting, however, the side effects are usually not common.
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