Nitrous oxide sedation service started at NDCS to aid patients with dental anxiety

Nitrous oxide sedation
(Image: EM Resident)

National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS) has started its nitrous oxide sedation service for paediatric dental patients in June this year. The sedation service is aimed to help helps paediatric patients to relax and cope better with dental procedures while also providing more pain relief.

To-date, the sedation service has been performed for 24 paediatric patients and the service is expected to be extended to adult patients at NDCS’ Geriatric Special Care Dentistry Clinic (GSDC) in early 2024. Plans are also underway to conduct a study in reported patient outcomes on the use of the nitrous oxide sedation service. 

“Our paediatric patients who received nitrous oxide sedation for dental treatment have been observed to be more relaxed, and better able to accept treatment and sit through the dental procedure. Nitrous oxide is an effective adjunct to our repertoire of behaviour management techniques.”, said Dr Bien Lai, senior consultant, and head of paediatric dentistry unit, department of restorative dentistry, NDCS.

Commonly known as ‘laughing gas’, nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and breathed in through a rubber mask placed over the patients’ nose for inhalation. The inhalation of nitrous oxide with oxygen provides a mild form of sedation to help the patient relax as the dentist goes about performing the procedure.

When properly used, NDCS said that nitrous oxide sedation is generally safer than general anesthesia for complex dental procedures due to its milder nature and is of lower risk to the respiratory system and hemodynamics. Nitrous oxide sedation also has a faster recovery time as the inhaled gas is eliminated more quickly from the body. 

The patient will feel slightly drowsy but remains awake throughout the duration of the procedure. At the end of the sedation, the patient is provided with 100% oxygen for five minutes to help prevent patients from feeling sick or having a headache. The nitrous oxide is fully breathed out of the body after sedation ends, enabling patients’ rapid recovery. 

“The [nitrous oxide] gas made her less nervous, very comfortable and sleepy in a good way. She actually told me that she doesn’t mind going through the whole process again. I would recommend this because it made [her] more relax and calm,” said 44-year old Mdm Norhayati Mahat, parent of 10-year old paediatric patient, Nur Fathiya Binte Yuraihan.

Nitrous oxide sedation for dental treatment at NDCS is practiced at the level of minimal sedation and is generally safe and mild. If any, common side effects of nitrous oxide sedation including vomiting, nausea, dizziness, and light-headedness.

Dr Yang Jingrong, head and consultant of GSDC, welcomes the sedation service. “This will expand the profile of patients who can be adequately managed at the clinic, particularly adults with high levels of dental anxiety that require medical co-management.”

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