Dental Anxiety


Pediatric dentists are specially trained to create a welcoming and secure atmosphere for anxious children. We have many techniques for soothing worries and helping children to feel safe and in control.

We commonly use a method called Tell-Show-Do; we explain the procedure, demonstrate on the child’s hand and then are able to perform the procedure on the child. This reduces anxiety by eliminating the worst fear – which is fear of the unknown. Furthermore, it allows the child to feel like a participant in her or his treatment.

Parents are allowed in the operatory. In some cases, treatment can be enhanced if parents step out of the room, but this will always be at the ultimate discretion of the parent. All of our pediatric dentists make individualized treatment plans for each child.

Sedation dentistry refers to the use of sedation during dental treatment. Sedation is most commonly used during extensive procedures for patients with dental phobia or for patients who find it difficult to sit still. Chestnut Dental does offer nitrous oxide (otherwise known as laughing gas; see below), but more significant methods of sedation – oral sedatives, IV sedation, or general anesthesia – are not offered in our office. However, most of our pediatric dentists are affiliated with the Boston Children's Hospital; should sedation heavier than nitrous oxide be recommended, we can help make the appropriate arrangements for your child to be treated there. In all cases and all matters, the health and safety of your child will be our top priority.

Nitrous Oxide ("Laughing Gas”)

Chestnut Dental does offer nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia – commonly known as "laughing gas" – for our more anxious pediatric patients.

Nitrous oxide can be used to calm a patient who has a dental phobia, low pain tolerance, physical handicaps, strong gag reflexes or needs major dental treatment. Nitrous oxide is very safe and has been used for over 100 years in medicine and dentistry. Nitrous oxide will not cause your child to sleep; rather, s/he will remain awake and responsive during the entire visit. This is not sedation or general anesthesia.

The gas is administered via a fitted mask placed over the nose. During the procedure, we administer more oxygen than children breathe in normal room air. This ensures a wide margin of safety. Local anesthetic is administered once the nitrous oxide administration has started. The effects of the gas (relaxation and reduced pain sensation) will last only a few minutes after the nitrous oxide is turned off, and 100% oxygen is given at the end of the procedure. Your child will be able to resume normal activities after the procedure – except for any activities we ask you to avoid, according to the nature of the dental treatment. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects, although some patients may experience minor nausea and constipation. Your doctor will provide you with pre-and post-nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia instructions.