Despite many advances in pain control in dentistry there is a population of children, and some adults that exhibit great anxiety when faced with dental treatment. A pediatric patient may express anxiety by exhibiting uncooperative behavior during dental treatment.
The majority of pediatric dental patients can be managed utilizing basic behavior management techniques such as desensitization (tell, show, do), voice control (alteration of voice volume, tone or pace), nonverbal communication (alteration of posture, facial expression and body language), positive reinforcement (reward, distraction, diverting the patient’s attention from the procedure) and parental presence/absence.1
For overly anxious patients that cannot be adequately managed by the above techniques, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia/anxiolysis inhalation (minimal sedation) as a safe and effective technique to reduce anxiety, produce analgesia and enhance effective communication between a patient and the health care provider. Almost 90% of pediatric dentists administer nitrous oxide to their patients to reduce or eliminate anxiety and pain during dental procedures. Nitrous oxide/oxygen administration provides multiple benefits to both patient and dentist. For the patient, nitrous oxide/oxygen provides anxiety relief and analgesia (pain control) that is safe and quickly reversed with minimal side effects. For the dentist, its administration to patients is relatively simple and safe with only moderate expense.2