Nitrous oxide laughing gas to help your child through a procedure (1868)

Key points below

To help your child through a procedure

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide may be used during procedures to help a child stay calm and have less fear.  It is a blend of sweet smelling gases. It is given through a mask.  It often is called laughing gas.  It has been used for many years in dental and medical care. 

How is it given? 

Before the procedure the nitrous oxide is given through a mask that is put over your child’s mouth and nose. Your child will feel relaxed in a very short time.  If your child is very upset or scared, other medicines may also be needed.  A medical provider will stay with your child during the procedure.  

After the procedure, oxygen is given for a few minutes.  This helps clear the gas from your child’s body.  Your child may be a little confused right after the procedure.  Most often this lasts a very short time.   A medical provider will stay with your child until the medicine has worn off. 

How can I best help my child?

You are welcome to stay in the room with your child.  For most procedures, you will be able to stay the whole time.  Nitrous oxide works best when it is very calm in the room.  Using your voice to talk to and comfort your child is very helpful.  Tell your child what is happening.  You can say, "The doctor is putting a mask on your face.  You'll breathe in some medicine that will help you feel relaxed." 

What are some of the reasons to use nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is safe for children.  There are no long-term side effects.
Stress and fear can be lowered without the need to give other medicines by mouth, a shot or an IV. 
There are few side effects including feeling dizzy and acting crabby.  Some children may have an upset stomach or throw up.
It works and wears off quickly.  It does not cause a deep sleep.
After the procedure your child may eat right away unless there is another reason not to. 

Are there any risks or problems with using nitrous oxide?

For some kids, nitrous oxide will not work to relax them enough to do the procedure.  Other options will be discussed if needed.  
Women in the first three months of pregnancy should not be exposed to nitrous oxide. 


Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.