There are many levels of conscious sedation (mild, moderate and deep) and our office offers minimal sedation (anxiolysis) which is a drug-induced state during which patients will not be put to sleep and will respond normally to verbal commands. Although cognitive function and physical coordination may be impaired, airway reflexes, ventilatory, and cardiovascular functions are unaffected. We give our patients an oral medication in our office and use this method when treating young children over the age of 2 or when there is extensive dental work to be completed.
NItrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Nitrous oxide is a colorless and virtually odorless gas with a faint, sweet smell. It is an effective analgesic/anxiolytic agent causing central nervous system (CNS) depression and euphoria with little effect on the respiratory system. Nitrous oxide is administered by having a nasal hood (with flavored scents) where the child will breathe a mixture of the nitrous oxide and oxygen. We commonly use this method for children 4 years and older.
The objectives of nitrous oxide/oxygen inhalation include:
- Reduce or eliminate anxiety
- Reduce untoward movement and reaction to dental treatment
- Enhance communication and patient cooperation
- Raise the pain reaction threshold
- Increase tolerance for longer appointments
- Aid in treatment of the mentally/physically disabled or medically compromised patient
- Reduce gagging