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At Little Teeth Big Smile Children’s Dentistry, we offer sedation dentistry for young patients who may have severe disabilities, children with extensive treatment plans, or children who suffer from anxiety. Sedation dentistry helps some children receive dental treatment who may otherwise not have received it. There are different options for sedation dentistry that can be used to help children relax and allow the dentist to restore their mouth to a healthy state. After an initial examination, the pediatric dentist will discuss the different options available to your child.

Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)

Nitrous Oxide, or better known as laughing gas, is a mild form of sedation for children who visit the pediatric dentist and may be overly nervous or anxious about their scheduled treatments. Nitrous Oxide helps to ease a patient’s fears so as to help them relax during their visit, and to receive dental treatment in a comfortable and safe manner.  Children sometimes report dreaming and their arms and legs may feel “tingly”. It raises the pain threshold and may even make the time appear to pass quickly. If your child is worried by the sights, sounds or sensations of dental treatment, he or she may respond more positively with the use of Nitrous Oxide.

Additionally it reduces the gag reflex which can interfere with effective dental treatment. Typically delivered through a mask over the nose, nitrous oxide is mixed directly with oxygen and delivered as the patient breathes in and out regularly. The patient is usually asked to breath normally through the nose, and as the gas begins to take effect, the child will become more relaxed and less nervous.

Nitrous Oxide is 100% safe to use during treatment and is eliminated from the body quickly after the gas is turned off. The child will remain awake during the entire procedure and will be able to interact and communicate with the pediatric dentist. After the procedure(s) are over, the Nitrous Oxide gas will be turned off and oxygen will be delivered for a few minutes to ensure that all gas is flushed from the system.

Nitrous Oxide is perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry. It is well tolerated, has a rapid onset, is reversible, can be adjusted in various concentrations and is non-allergenic. Your child remains fully conscious and keeps all natural reflexes when breathing the gases. He or she will be capable of responding to a question or requests by the dental staff. You should inform our office regarding any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child.

Because every child is different, all of our dental services are tailored specifically to your child’s needs. In a very small percentage of children Nitrous Oxide may not be effective. We will review your child’s medical history, level of anxiety, and treatment needs and inform you if Nitrous Oxide is recommended for your child.

General Anesthesia

Medically speaking, general anesthesia is an induced state of unconsciousness. In practical terms, the patient is asleep and does not respond to touch or sound. It is most often recommended for children with extensive treatment needs and/or an inability to communicate and cooperate. Sometimes it may also be the best way to provide treatment for children with special medical/developmental needs, or high anxiety. All parents should know that children face the same risks of dental general anesthesia, as for any other surgical procedure. Our office utilizes the expertise of Dr. Michael S. Higgins, is a licensed anesthesiologist who works exclusively with dental sedation. Parents should talk openly with the pediatric dental staff about the benefits and risks of this treatment.

Some Information on Dr. Michael Higgins

Michael S. Higgins, DDS attended the University of Illinois Medical Center College of Dentistry. Upon graduation, he completed a General Practice Hospital residency program in New York and was subsequently accepted into the Anesthesiology residency at Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago.  Since completion of his anesthesia training in 1982, Dr. Higgins has practiced dental anesthesiology, providing office based anesthesia care throughout the Northern Illinois area.

Dr. Higgins of Anesthesia Associates is a highly qualified anesthesiologist who has been providing pediatric and special needs patients with excellent anesthesia care for over 25 years. With an anesthesiologist on our team, office anesthesia is a very safe and effective treatment choice. Dr. Higgins’ office is the best source for answers to your technical questions regarding anesthesia care for your child.

Important Information regarding your child’s upcoming procedure

Since you are considering the advantages of general anesthesia for the dental treatment of your child, it will be helpful for you to be aware of a few important details that will ensure a pleasant experience.

To the best of our ability, we will attempt to offer you an appointment that is most convenient for your schedule. However, other important considerations for scheduling include your child’s age, medical status, the urgency of their dental needs, and coordinating the doctors’ schedules.

Dr. Higgins’ office will contact you to help you prepare for this procedure. It is important that you share all medical information about your child’s health history with his office. Please be prepared to provide the name, address and phone numbers of your child’s pediatrician, and any specialty physicians that may be included in their care. Your child will need a current physical examination performed by their physician along with a few simple lab tests that will involve a blood sample. If these have been done recently, the retesting may be avoidable – please inform Dr. Higgins if this is the case.

In some instances, Dr. Higgins may prescribe oral medications for your child prior to surgery. This must be given specifically as directed.


All General Anesthesia fees are handled through Dr. Higgins’ office, Anesthesia Associates. Anesthesia Associates will provide you with an estimate of your anesthesia fee based on your child’s specific needs. An initial down payment will be due prior to scheduling with Dr. Higgins.

Anesthesia care for dental procedures may be a covered expense through your medical insurance carrier. Medical benefits for dental anesthesia vary among insurance carriers. Anesthesia Associates will assist you in obtaining insurance reimbursement information and benefits. For certain special needs children, there may be philanthropic funds available from third party sources; please discuss this possibility with Dr. Higgins’ office.

All dental treatment fees are handled through Children’s Dentistry and your patient portion must be paid in full prior to scheduling your child’s sedation appointment. Children’s Dentistry will obtain a pre-estimate from your insurance company.  While we do everything on our end to ensure the most accurate estimate is obtained prior to your child’s procedure, please keep in mind that this is just an estimate.  To obtain the most accurate information, we recommend you call the insurance company to get the best understanding of the covered benefits of your specific plan. Occasionally treatment may change during the appointment, resulting in additional fees. If this should occur, you will be notified of any such changes.