Inhalation sedation for dental procedures

Inhalation sedation is a light form of sedation. It is a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen breathed through a nosepiece. This helps the child to feel relaxed and accept treatment.

Inhalation sedation is also known as ‘happy air’. Inhalation sedation is NOT general anaesthesia.

What will your child feel?

During inhalation sedation your child can feel:

  • relaxed
  • floating
  • slightly drowsy but not asleep
  • slightly warm
  • tingling in the feet or hands

Your child will be awake and conscious throughout the procedure and will be able to talk.

How quickly does it work?

Inhalation sedation takes a few minutes to become effective and also a few minutes to recover from at the end of the procedure.

Inhalation sedation is a safe and recommended form of sedation for children.

Before the appointment:

  • If possible, arrange the appointment early in the day, which helps reduce stress and anxiety and children are less tired.
  • Please contact the Dental department if your child develops a cold (inhalation sedation does not work if a child has a cold or a blocked nose).
  • A written consent form is required to be signed by the person with parental responsibility before treatment under inhalation sedation.

On the day of the appointment:

  • Loose clothing should be worn.
  • Fasting is NOT required. Your child should have a light meal approximately an hour or two before the appointment.
  • Greasy/oily food should not be eaten as it can make the child feel nauseous during treatment.
  • Your child must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
  • Inform the dentist if your child’s health or medication has changed.

After the treatment:

  • After inhalation sedation, the child should avoid active sports, swimming, bicycling, dancing, skating, crossing the road on their own for the rest of the day.

Please ask the dentist if your child can go to school after the treatment.

Compiled by: 
The Dental and Maxillo-Facial department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group
Last review date: 
February 2017


Please note this is a generic GOSH information sheet. If you have specific questions about how this relates to your child, please ask your doctor. Please note this information may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals.