Sedation dentistry with Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas)

For patients that have dental phobias, fear of pain or severe anxiety surrounding dental treatment, the use of nitrous oxide  can make the experience very manageable. 

Nitrous oxide is a colorless gas with a pleasant taste and odor. People first inhale 100% oxygen through a soft nosepiece or mask. Then, nitrous oxide is slowly mixed in with the oxygen. Nitrous oxide usually starts to work in less than five minutes. The mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen is then adjusted to a level to ensure your comfort.

When used for mild (conscious) sedation, nitrous oxide may make you feel:  relaxed, warm, pleasant , happy or silly You also may feel: 1) Tingling in your hands and feet  2) Numbness, heaviness or lightness in your mouth, feet or hands 3) Changes in the way you hear sounds (everything sounds far away or muffled or you may hear a sound described as “white noise”)  4) Sleepiness 5) A sense that everything is wonderful 6) Nausea In rare cases.

Nitrous oxide does not put you to sleep. You can still respond to requests and answer questions. Your speech may be slightly slurred, and your responses may be slower than usual. In general, you will be relaxed and cooperative. You will know when you are receiving an injection, and you may even feel it. But you probably won’t care. Your breathing and heartbeat will still be normal and remain in control of all bodily functions. You may experience mild amnesia and may fall asleep, not remembering all of what happened during their appointment.

There are many advantages to using Nitrous Oxide

  • The depth of sedation can be altered at any time to increase or decrease sedation.
  • There is no after effect such as a “hangover”.
  • Inhalation sedation is safe with no side effects on your heart and lungs, etc.
  • Inhalation sedation is very effective in minimizing gagging.
  • It works rapidly as it reaches the brain within 20 seconds. In as little as 2-3 minutes its relaxation and pain killing properties develop.

Reasons to not use Nitrous Oxide

You should not utilize Nitrous Oxide if you are pregnant or have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Though there are no other major contraindications to using nitrous oxide, you may not want to use it if you have emphysema, exotic chest problems, M.S., a cold or other difficulties with breathing.