Nitrous oxide or 'happy air' sedation is used in dentistry to help children reduce anxiety for simple dental procedures. It involves wearing a soft rubber mask over their nose, through which they breathe a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen, also known as ‘happy air’. After a few minutes, they should start to feel more relaxed and calm allowing the dentist to carry out the necessary treatment. It is very safe and common for them to experience a tingling sensation in their fingers and/or toes. Children often say they feel warm and as if they are floating. Once the treatment is finished the gas mixture is fully breathed out of the body so there are no lasting effects. Your child will recover from the effects of the 'happy air' very quickly although some children can feel tired or sleepy. They will be observed for a brief period following the sedation until it is safe for you to return home.
Your dentist will talk to you in more detail about inhalation sedation at your initial consultation. It is important to know that 'happy air' sedation is extremely beneficial for children showing dental anxiety and to also prevent dental anxiety but it is not effective for children who show very high levels of anxiety and who are not able to co-operate or too scared to wear the mask. We will discuss everything in detail and will be able to answer any questions you may have at your pre-op assessment.
We ask that your child eats a light meal/snack minimum 2 hours before the appointment, but nothing in the 2-hour period before the visit. A small sandwich or piece of toast is sufficient.
During the procedure, we ask one parent to stay in the room, so your child feels more comfortable. We do advise your child to bring a comforting teddy or blanket to their appointment or headphones to listen to music throughout the appointment.
We will show you the nosepiece at the sedation assessment and demonstrate how you need to breathe through it, however, leading up to the appointment if your child practices every day, lying in bed on their back with their mouth open, breathing in and out through their nose, this will make it easier on the day of treatment so it feels familiar. We advise that a parent supervises these breathing exercises and praise them for their good work.
It is not necessary to keep your child nil by mouth (fast) from midnight before the day of sedation and we recommend that you have a light meal before your appointment. Please let your dentist or nurse know if your child has any allergies to any medicines, foods or materials at the assessment. Do not stop any prescribed medications unless requested by your dentist. If your child develops a cold or feels unwell before their treatment, please call us in advance as it is likely we cannot go ahead with treatment. A blocked nose stops the child from inhaling the 'happy air'.
Only the child’s parents must bring them to an appointment. A sibling, aunty, friend etc are not suitable. Your dentist will discuss this with you at your assessment appointment. Please do not bring any other children or babies to the clinic on the day of the treatment as it can be a distraction for the child and the parents.
Sedation with 'happy air', is a safe and effective method used to help children cope with dental treatment if they are anxious. It helps them to remain calm and not feel frightened or distressed. It can help to make an uncomfortable procedure manageable as they become less aware of the dental procedure. We provide Inhalation Sedation for children aged 5 years at Victoria Dental Clinic in Manchester with Dr Shilpa Shah.
Inhalation sedation has no lasting effects on the body. It may cause dizziness or a light-headed sensation at the end of treatment but this should only last a few minutes. We will give your child pure oxygen to breathe at the end of the treatment to help prevent this.
Nitrous oxide has an analgesic (pain-relieving) effect on the body so the feeling of the local anaesthetic is less noticeable. The dentist will also apply some numbing gel onto the gum, before using 'The Wand®', a pain-free alternative to the traditional method of giving local anaesthetic. Most people don't feel anything when having a local anaesthetic with the Wand®.
We want to involve you in all the decisions about your child’s care and treatment. If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This confirms that you agree to your child having the procedure and understand what it involves.
At the end of treatment, you will stay in the surgery until your child has fully recovered. They may still feel sleepy and some people are clumsy and forgetful. For these reasons you will not be able to leave until you have been checked by the dentist or dental nurse. Most people spend about 10 minutes in recovery. Occasionally some children may experience mild nausea after receiving inhalation sedation. They must remain under close supervision by a parent or guardian immediately after their procedure.
The alternatives to this type of sedation are local anaesthetic (with no sedation), intravenous sedation (age 12yrs +) or a general anaesthetic (any age).
Intravenous sedation involves giving your child an injection of a sedative drug through a plastic tube inserted into a vein in their arm or hand. This service is led by our Paediatric anaesthetist Dr Danielle Ormandy.
Treatment under a local anaesthetic will involve an injection into the gum only so that there will be no pain but your child would be fully conscious during treatment.
A general anaesthetic is a medicine that causes you to be temporarily unconscious (asleep), so you do not feel anything during the procedure. It carries greater risks and therefore is reserved for people who are unable to cope with treatment under sedation due to disability or who need a complex or difficult dental procedure. This would require onward referral to a hospital.
IV sedation can be provided to children aged 12 -16 years in dental practice. This service is provided by our Specialist Paediatric Anaesthetist. Where possible we recommend all children to have 'happy air' sedation. In some circumstances, if your child is extremely anxious IV sedation may be recommended.
If you wish to go ahead with dental treatment under sedation or are interested in what we can offer for you, please speak to your dental care provider and ask your dentist to send us a referral. If your child does not have a dentist to refer them you may contact us directly and may require an additional treatment plan appointment.
We will liaise with your dentist and discuss your treatment needs before booking a face-to-face consultation and sedation assessment which is based at Victoria Clinic, Manchester City Centre.
Due to logistics and safety reasons, we only provide inhalation sedation at Victoria Dental Clinic and it is not offered as a 'mobile' service.
We use 'The Wand®' (computer-aided anaesthesia) for all our sedations in-house at Victoria Clinic. A pain-free and child friendly alternative to the traditional dental injection.