Sometimes A Little Gas Is A Good Thing

Yep. That’s a nitrous perma-grin all right.

The weirdest thing happened yesterday. I went to the dentist with my boys, and I didn’t leave the office crying, yelling, or crusted in vomit. This is a miraculous first. When my boys were very young, I feared they might have difficulty at the dentist, Joe because of his heightened level of fears and Luke because of his obnoxiously enhanced gag reflex. So, they had their first dental visits when they were 2 1/2. I figured better to start them young with innocent visits to prepare them for teeth cleanings, x-rays, fillings, and extractions later in their youth.

It turns out that my best intentions were for naught. Oh. It was all fine and cute when all they were doing in the office was getting their teeth “counted”. But, once the real cleanings and flossings began, the deepest chasm of hell opened. Joe, with his then undiagnosed ADHD, could not sit still. He would flip around in the chair, pull his legs into his chest, and knock the tools out of the hygienist’s hands. Luke could sit still, but when the implements came out he would gag before they even touched his mouth. On more than one occasion, he threw up on the hygienist and me. They even assigned him a specific hygienist, presumably the one with the greatest patience and tolerance for vomit but probably the one who drew the shortest straw. Luke has seen Kristy for every single visit since he was 4. I probably should add her to our Christmas card list and make sure I include a spa gift card.

So, what made yesterday’s visit different? For starters, Joe has a much better handle on his ADHD and after having suffered through three extractions and a year and a half of braces already he’s become a much improved dental patient. And, Luke? Well….they finally had exhausted all their other options with him, so they decided to bring out the big guns. They asked me if it was okay to try him on nitrous oxide for his appointment. Considering that I had researched acupuncture and therapy (for him and possibly for me, as well) to help with these appointments, I was ready to try anything. Desperate, I acquiesced. Just thirty seconds into a little breathing of a bubble-gum scented gas, Luke was visibly relaxed. In fact, he was so relaxed I was wondering if he had fallen asleep. His usual nervous twitching was gone.

“Luke…are you all right?” I asked.

“Uh huh,” he responded after a little pause.

“Do you feel relaxed?”

“Uh huh,” he responded again with his lips in a permanent grin. Then, he hit me with this. “Mom, can we get one of these machines at home?”

Wow. Okay. So I guess we now know what kind of an addictive personality Luke has. Between his competitive nature and his apparent fondness for substance-induced altered states of consciousness, I was afforded a momentary glimpse into what college might be like for him. Beer Pong Championship here we come.

“Luke…if these machines were commercially available, we would already own one and I’d be hooked up every single afternoon,” I replied.

He didn’t respond. He just continued to grin.

Is it right to drug my child at the dentist? I’m positive there are those who would emphatically tell me no. Then, I would tell them to take a flying leap because until you’ve parented a kid like my Luke, you have no clue. Yesterday, on his fourteenth dental visit, Luke finally had his first real cleaning, flossing, and fluoride treatment. Kristy was also able to use the ultrasonic tartar cleaning tool on him simply by telling him that some squeaky little mice were going to clean his teeth. Seriously? Then, the most amazing thing happened. The orthodontist was able to take photos of his teeth, inserting a huge metal spatula in his mouth to capture both the front and the back of his teeth simultaneously on film. I almost fell over. I don’t care what anyone says. That nitrous oxide yesterday was worth the $40 out-of-pocket expense, and I most definitely would drug my kid for a dental appointment again. Sometimes a little gas can be a good thing.




  1. I am really surprised they didn’t ask sooner! I have them use it with Connor for anything more than a cleaning and if he had issues with that I would do it then! I think making the dentist as untraumatic as possible is the most important thing!

    1. Luke, oddly enough, doesn’t seem traumatized by his dental experiences. He just has such a sensitive gag reflex because he thinks about it too much. So, the nitrous took his mind off what was going on and they were able to do all kinds of work. I am hoping he learns to control his thoughts or those monthly orthodontist visits will get pricey. 😉

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