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Nitrous Oxide vs Conscious Sedation for 4 Year Old Dental Treatment

Hey moms! So, my 4yr old son has 2 cavities on his 2 top front teeth that need to be fixed. I've been given the choice between using Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) or "Conscious Sedation", which from what I understand, will be a cocktail of 3 different meds that will be administered orally before the procedure. At this point we're leaning towards the conscious sedation because I'm afraid that the gas won't be enough of a pain blocker and I would hate for my little guy's first experience with dental work to be a bad one. I should mention that he's been really good during his routine teeth cleanings and the work will be done by a pediatric dentist. However, he had a rough time with his last round of shots at the pediatrician's (6 mnths ago) and still talks about how bad it was. I guess I'm just curious to hear others experiences with either procedure and any pros/cons...

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Good Morning L.,
My two children ages 14 & 12 were deathly affraid of the Dentest. Both had a very tramatic experience. We now go to a pediatric dentist and he uses the laughing gas, Both of my kids love him. My doughter ended up not even getting the shot to numb, she just did the gas. Hope this helps. J

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Good Morning L.,
My two children ages 14 & 12 were deathly affraid of the Dentest. Both had a very tramatic experience. We now go to a pediatric dentist and he uses the laughing gas, Both of my kids love him. My doughter ended up not even getting the shot to numb, she just did the gas. Hope this helps. J

My son, who is four, just had his first dental procedure this past summer and had the nitrous oxide. He did wonderful and he even fell asleep during the procedure! They said that he probably fell asleep because he was so relaxed.

I will say that I was a nervous wreck the whole time, but what mom wouldn't be? He had no after pain and I was very impressed with the whole procedure and would do it again if needed.

Hi Linnetteyou know your child better than anyone. so far has he had good experiences with the dentist? Do you have a good child dentist who will make him comfortable and be patient with him? If you have any doubt my opinion is go with the conscious sedation the child will not remember what happened at all and you want the dentist to be a postive experience because you have several more years of child visits and just from personal experience try to make them as pleasant as possible. make sure your dentist is reputable and the anesthesiologist is on hand the whole time. Most insurances cover this when the child is 5 or under if you get a note from the dentist stating the child has fear issues with the dentist. good luck. it will be ok.one more thing i know you said he had a rough time with the shots at the doctor, my daughters dentist had to administer the sedation through a shot and although my daughter was scared she does not remember a thing.it was harder on me than her i think. its not easy watching your child being sedated but it was for the best she goes to the dentist no problem.sorry after reading the following comments what we had was NOT a kiddie cocktail she was put to sleep with one shot and the anesthesiologist was right there the whole time they wieghed her and everything went beautifully Dr. Libby on Channel 8 in phoenix did the several proceedures on my daughter and I wish i knew that option existed before i tried all the others " oxide" " kiddie cocktail" "just shots" this was amazing because there is no memory of the scary proceedure.

My 3 daughter had both done on her. The first time they did the Nitrous Oxide. It worked really well. She even fell asleep for awhile. But, since she had to have a lot of work done, it took a long time. She started to put her hand to her mouth after about an hour. I don't know if she started to feel or she was just feeling anxious. They ended up having to stop half way through (which was at 2 1/2 teeth). She never complained about it. For the second half of the procedure she had the conscious sedation. Which was scheduled a couple of months later. She did great before and after. She still loves going to the dentist. If i knew what i know now, i would have choosen the conscious sedation the first time. I didnt have a problem with the nitrous oxide, but, me and my daughter could have been saved a whole second trip to the dentist. I would say, that if its not such a big procedure go with the nitrous oxide.

Hey L.,

We just went through this with my 4 year old daughter. I took her to 3 different pediatric dentists this time around because she had cavities filled when she was 2 and it was a disaster. She had the kiddie cocktail the first time, and it made her combative. They papoosed her, and she freaked out. I regret it to this day. She didn't forget anything-still talks about it: "remember when I went to the dentist and I couldn't get away?" I finally felt comfortable with the last dentist we consulted with. She told me that it isn't unusual for kids who are strong-willed to have an adverse reaction to the narcotic part of the kiddie cocktail. Instead, they gave her a medication equivalent to a strong dose of Benadryl. After she relaxed a bit, they took her back and gave her the nitrous. I was there the whole time, outside the room, but able to observe. There were a few tears toward the end, but I think all-in-all my daughter did exceptionally well considering her first experience. Our dentist told me from the beginning that if Ellie protested too much, they would stop the procedure, and we'd try again another time. I would extract that same promise from your dentist. If your son does well now, you may not have to worry about the aforementioned information, but it should give you pause to know that all children do not respond to the kiddie cocktail in the same way. I'd find out exactly what they are going to give him and ask about the narcotic part of the cocktail, then go with your gut. Don't let them restrain him, whatever you do. It was terrible, and it's definitely had long term consequences for my daughter. You can always go back another day if you have to.

Good luck,


I worked as a dental assistant at a pediatric dentists office for several years and I would recommend conscious sedation. Nitrous Oxide definately works for most people but sometimes even that didn't help enough and we weren't able to get the work done. When we used the conscious sedation the kids were much more relaxed and we were better able to get the work done quickly and efficiently. You will need to keep a close eye on your little one after the procedure until the medicine wears off which you wouldn't have to do with nitrous but if it were my child I would do the conscious sedation. The nice thing about conscious sedation is they don't really remember what happened so even if it is a difficult experience the odds of him remembering it are slim.

I feel for you because our youngest had dental work done about 2 months ago. She has had severe episodes of ketotic hypoglcemia and when she fasts, her b/s drops dangerously and is difficult to arouse. We had actually put hers off for about 12 mo with dental advice because with conscious sedation they have to have fasting prior to the procedure.

Our kids have had experience with both and they do 'not' remember the sleepy juice day at all, which is nice in that aspect. My oldest still remembers the injections and the nitrous route.

Just keep in mind, that you want the first available appt for the little ones (fasting is harder on them and easier if the majority of the time is while they are normally sleeping). Also, have a drink of juice or something on hand when he/she does wake up. It will help them and you! They may sleep the rest of the day as well so don't plan on alot of activity.

Best of luck!

Hey I've had both done with my 3 yr old and will never do conscious sedation unless it was the only option. I also recommend getting a second opinion. I ended up taking my child to a regular dentist over a pediatric dentist and he filled what we were told was a major cavity needing a pulpotimy (I no longer trust pediatric dentists) Another thing I didn't like about the conscious sedation was that he was strapped down to a board and we were not allowed to be in the room with him. He had bruising on his neck for a month afterwards. With the nitrous oxide my son was also given the shot that they would use to work on your teeth (though I am sure a smaller dose) Therefore he didn't feel the pain.
*ON a side note my regular dentist is also my cousin which I am ten times more comfortable with working on my precious babies.

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