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Effective Nitrous Oxide/Oxygen Administration for Children

Course Number: 92

Step 1 - Introduction to Nitrous Oxide

If this is the patient’s first exposure to the nitrous oxide experience, the dentist must provide a full description of the experience. This will reduce anxiety in the apprehensive patient and desensitize (tell, show, do) the first-time patient to the procedure. The patient is told in terms he/she can understand, what to expect. A typical scenario follows:

“Hi. Today I’m going to fix one of your broken teeth and I want to make sure that nothing bothers you. The way I’m going to do that is by having you doing three things. First, I’m going to have you breathe some special air that’s going to make you feel very relaxed and happy that you’re here. As a matter of fact, to make sure you’re happy, while you’re breathing the happy air, I want you to think of something you really like doing. It could be playing with a friend, going on a vacation with your family, playing a video game or watching a movie.”

The child patient is introduced and allowed to touch the various components of the delivery unit, dials, reservoir bag and, of course, the nasal hood. Nasal hoods come in a variety of styles, sizes, shapes, and scents. Some are disposable and some can be sterilized. When administering nitrous oxide to children, it is recommended nasal hoods be scented for a more pleasurable experience.

“We’re going to start by having you blow up this balloon (the reservoir bag). You’re going to do that by breathing into this funny nose (nasal hood). Now we do weird things here, so I’m going to let you pick your nose and not get scolded (The patient usually laughs). I have different flavored noses. There’s orange, bubble gum, grape, and cherry (The nasal hoods are wrapped in protective plastic to allow the child to smell the different scents without contaminating them). So go ahead and pick your nose.”

For patients that are extremely apprehensive, the nasal hood is given to them to take home prior to the restorative visit. This allows them to become further desensitized to the nitrous oxide experience.