More than you ever wanted to know about nitrous oxide masks

Unfortunately the majority of this post is neither funny or fun, unlike the agent mentioned in the post name- nitrous oxide, which is commonly known by its silly name: “laughing gas”. This gas is typically used to make children feel more relaxed in the dental office and it makes a 40 minute procedure feel more like a 10 minute procedure, which is very helpful when treating children. As any parent of a young child knows, asking them to sit still for 40 minutes can be a challenge as kids are generally hard-wired to be continually active.

Nitrous oxide is delivered through a mask and tubing; the tubing runs from centrally-located tanks of gasses, and the mask covers the child’s nose. The traditional unit uses a mask and tubing that are re-usable between patients, and were typically sterilized by being wiped-down using a virucidal cleaner. The emergence of COVID-19 has posed new concerns for dentists as to whether “wiping-down” these components completely reduces the risk of cross-contamination between patients. For this reason, many dentists are now considering new ways of sterilizing these components.

When designing my practice, I chose not to go with re-usable masks and tubing, and instead chose Silhouette brand, which is completely disposable between patients. Although this decision did come at an increased cost, I chose this system after careful evaluation of the safety and cleanliness of the product. So, The Tooth Ferry will continue to use the Silhouette system, knowing that it is the safest choice in the era of COVID-19, and my patients and their families can rest easy knowing the nitrous oxide mask their child is breathing from has never been used prior to their visit!