Nervous Dental Patients

Inhalation Sedation

What Is Inhalation Sedation?

Inhalation sedation involves breathing in a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen.
Sedation is used to help adults and children have dental treatment and is sometimes called ‘happy gas’ or ‘gas and air’. It can help with anxiety about dental treatment. It can also help if you/your child have a tendency to gag during treatment.

We can offer this to children from around the age of 5 or 6. Your child will be conscious (awake) the whole time and will be able to talk to you and the dentist. This should help with any worries they may have, and they should  be able to cope with treatment more easily.

The gases are breathed in through a small hood over the nose that remains in place throughout the treatment.

The gases produce a calming and relaxing effect. Patients become less aware of their surroundings but do not go to sleep. Sedation is not a general anaesthetic.

Are there any other types of sedation?

The inhalation method of sedation may not be right for you or your child. This can depend on the age of the child and how well they can understand and cooperate with the procedure. Sometimes we only realise this after your dentist has attempted inhalation sedation and not been successful. A deeper form of sedation, given into a vein, may be necessary, or a general anaesthetic. These types of treatments may require a referral to specialist clinic or hospital. You can talk to your dentist about this.

What are the risks?

Inhalation sedation is very safe. You may feel dizzy or light-headed at the end of treatment but this should only last a few minutes. We will give you pure oxygen to breathe at the end of the treatment to help prevent this.

Why do I need to sign a consent form?

It is important for you to be included in decisions about your/your child’s care and treatment. If you decide you or your child should have sedation, you will be asked to sign a consent form on a different day to the treatment. The consent form confirms your agreement to the treatment. It also provides an opportunity for you to ask any questions and make sure you understand exactly what the procedure involves.

What can parents and escorts do to help?

Always speak positively about the planned dental care. Don’t discuss your fears about dental treatment in front of your child. Have confidence in your/your child’s ability to cope.

Practice nose-breathing at home with your child.

Your Appointment

Before the appointment

Give your child/have a light snack or small meal 2 hours before your appointment.

Please take any medications as normal, advise your dentist of any changes to your medication before treatment.

Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult, who must remain on the premises during treatment.

If the patient’s escort is pregnant, it is recommended they do not remain in the surgery during treatment.

Try not to bring any other children to the appointment.

Adults receiving inhalation sedation must be accompanied to the first sedation appointment by a responsible adult. The dentist will advise on attending any subsequent appointments alone.

Once the patient is sedated, the dentist can use local anaesthesia (pain relief that numbs the site of the dental treatment). Local anaesthetic as a paste is sometimes used to numb the site of the treatment. Any injections that you/your child may need can then be given through this numbed area to reduce the chance of any discomfort.

If you/your child are unwell with ‘flu or has a heavy cold, inhalation sedation will not be successful as breathing through the nose is needed. If unwell, please contact the practice as soon as possible to rearrange your appointment.

At the time of the sedation appointment, please let us know:

  • About any change in your/your child’s health;
  • About any medicines taken;
  • If you are, or might be pregnant;
  • About any concerns regarding the proposed treatment.

After the appointment:

After inhalation sedation, patients make a full recovery very quickly.

Children are better not returning to school and should rest under the supervision of an adult for the remainder of the day.

Physical activities should be restricted and no sports should be undertaken.

It is recommended that that journey home is in a car or taxi.

Adults should adopt caution before driving, operating machinery or signing legal documents; you will be checked by your dentist and dental nurse to ensure you are fit for discharge. It is recommended that you return home to rest for the remainder of the day.