Inhalation sedation

We are able to offer dental treatment with inhalation sedation for children and adults who experience dental anxiety. Patients are usually referred to our service by their dentist and must meet our acceptance criteria.Inhalation sedation is not general anaesthesia.

Inhalation sedation using nitrous oxide and oxygen is breathed in through a nose piece. It has properties which will leave the patient feeling relaxed and able to accept treatment. Once the treatment is complete, recovery is very quick. This type of sedation works particularly well for children.

More about Inhalation sedation

Inhalation sedation means that sedation is given as a gas. Anxiety is reduced by breathing nitrous oxide with oxygen, given as a mixed gas. The dentist will give you the gas through a nosepiece. This will not cover your mouth.

What to expect  

Your first appointment will be for an assessment when your dental treatment under sedation will be planned and discussed with you. Sedation will take place at the second and subsequent appointments. It is important that you let the dentist know your medical history and details of any medicines that you are taking.

If you think you may be pregnant, you need to let the dentist know. You may need to come back to have your treatment at another time.

If you have any questions or are unclear about having your sedation then do not hesitate to ask your dentist.

As you receive the gas via a nosepiece it will help you to relax and reduce your anxiety levels. You may get a feeling of warmth throughout your body as well as some mild tingling and light-headedness. You will stay awake and in control of all your reflexes, such as coughing.

Once you are sedated with the gas, the dentist may use local analgesia (pain relief that numbs the site of the dental treatment). Local anaesthetic as a paste is often used first and then any injection you may need can be given through this numbed area to reduce the chance of any discomfort.

Inhalation sedation may not be suitable for everybody. Alternative options can be discussed.

After the treatment

At the end of the procedure, the dentist will give you some extra oxygen to make you feel more alert. This will speed up your recovery from the effects of the sedation. Although unlikely, patients occasionally experience side effects such as headaches and feeling sick.

You will be checked by the dentist to make sure that you are ready to go home. It is not always necessary to have someone with you following this type of simple inhalation sedation however we advise that you do not drive for the remainder of the day as doing so may invalidate your car insurance.

Before leaving you will be given information relating to the dental treatment you have received. The dental team will also advise you about any medicines you may need while recovering from the treatment. If you have any problems please telephone the clinic where you received your sedation treatment.

Instructions for the day of treatment

Inhalation sedation depends on you being able to breathe through your nose. If you have a cold or your nose is blocked, your treatment may have to be postponed. Please call the clinic for advice.

On the day of your treatment:

  • It is important that you do have something light to eat and drink up to two hours before sedation
  • An escort is not essential for adult patients
  • Take routine medicines at the normal time
  • Do not drink alcohol or take recreational drugs for 24 hours before treatment
  • Tell your dentist of any new medicines or changes to your medical history
  • You should be fully recovered from inhalation sedation within 30 minutes from the end of treatment
  • You may be advised not to drive a car, ride a bicycle or operate machinery for up to 2 hours following your treatment

Inhalation sedation for children

What is inhalation sedation?

The child in your care may require dental treatment under inhalation sedation. This will help the child feel less anxious, slightly drowsy and more relaxed for the dental treatment. Inhalation sedation does not make the child unconscious. The child remains awake but may feel warm and slightly drowsy but not asleep. The child’s memory of the treatment afterwards may be slightly reduced.

Inhalation sedation means that the child will breathe a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen from a nose piece placed on the nose. This will have a relaxing effect.

Benefits and risks of inhalation sedation

Inhalation sedation is a widely used technique and helps reduce anxiety and fear of dental treatment. This is particularly helpful if the child is having a longer, uncomfortable or more complicated procedure. 

The dentists and members of the dental team are trained to give sedation. They watch the child closely and treat any problems that may develop. The nitrous oxide is completely breathed out of the body within 30 minutes of the end of the treatment. This means that the child can recover very quickly from this type of sedation.

The dentist will give the child some oxygen at the end of the sedation to help prevent the child feeling a bit sick or having a headache.

The child will be asked to wait until the dentist has checked that he or she has fully recovered from the sedation. The child will not be allowed to go home with you until the dentist has checked this.

What to expect

It is usual to have two or more appointments. At the first appointment (assessment), the dentist will take a full dental history of the child. Various methods of providing the dental treatment with or without sedation will be explained. Other than in an emergency, the treatment will take place at the second or subsequent appointments.

If it is agreed that dental treatment with inhalation sedation is the best way to treat the child, then the dentist will confirm the child’s medical history. If further information is required, the child’s GP or specialist will be contacted.

How to prepare your child

Before the treatment, the child in your care can eat normally but with only a light meal being taken up to 2 hours before any treatment. Please give the child any routine medicines as normal. Any medicines or inhalers that the child may need should be brought to the dental appointment.

Written consent will be required from the parent/carer before any treatment can be given to the child. If you have agreed and signed the consent form at the assessment appointment, and you are then unable to attend on the day of the treatment, the child must be accompanied by a responsible adult (over 18 years of age).

The child should wear loose, comfortable clothing. 

If the child is unwell on the day with cold/flu symptoms or anything contagious, please contact the clinic in advance of your appointment.

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