The Most Common Form of Sedation
Laughing gas, a common nickname for nitrous oxide, is a low-level form of sedation that’s often used for small dental procedures. Nitrous oxide has been used for pain relief for over 100 years, so it’s a well-established pain reliever.
It’s gained popularity for dental procedures due to a common fear or dread of visiting the dentist. Nitrous oxide can make your dental appointment tolerable if you have anxiety or very sensitive teeth.
What Nitrous Oxide Does
Nitrous oxide is administered through a mask that usually goes over your nose and mouth. The gas fills your lungs and displaces oxygen, so there’s a lack of oxygen getting to your brain. Though this may sound dangerous, it’s completely safe as long as a professional is administering it.
Though it can actually cause people to laugh when used recreationally, you won’t be administered nitrous oxide in a way that makes you laugh. It will make you feel euphoric and calm, so you’ll feel pleasant during your appointment.
It will wear off after the mask has been removed from your face and you breathe in oxygen. If you’re not administered oxygen alongside the nitrous oxide, dentists like Dr. David Blaustein in Chelsea, New York will likely suggest you wait about 15 minutes before leaving.
Why People Choose Nitrous Oxide
There are many reasons why someone might want to receive this gas during their dental appointment. Some of these include:
- Fear or anxiety about their appointment
- Very sensitive teeth
- Difficulty sitting still in the chair
- Have a low threshold for pain
- Have a gag reflex that gets in the way
- Need a lot of dental work completed
For any of these reasons, dentists like Dr. Jay Stockdale in Rancho Cucamonga, CA recommend sedation. It can help your dental visit to be more comfortable so you won’t be afraid to come back when you need work done.
How Nitrous Oxide Feels
Nitrous oxide makes you feel calm and happy, the reason for it being called laughing gas, due to the lack of oxygen in your brain. It’s fairly quick to take effect too — within a couple of minutes, you’ll start to feel it. The gas also wears off quickly, so you won’t be affected for long.
You won’t feel pain when you’re under the effects of nitrous oxide, either. Combined with local anesthetics and the use of advanced technology, most procedures are hardly anything to worry about.
The gas has some recreational use due to its effects, but it’s rare to overdose. The most dangerous aspect of nitrous oxide is that it can impair your judgment and concentration, which can lead to accidents. That’s Dr. Brian Klym often makes his patients wait for the gas to wear off completely before they can drive home.
Are You Able to Receive Nitrous Oxide?
This low-level gas is safe for most people, and can even be used for children. However, there are some cases in which you may not be able to undergo treatment with nitrous oxide.
You may not be able to receive nitrous oxide if:
- If you’re in the first trimester of pregnancy
- You have a respiratory illness or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- You have a vitamin B-12 deficiency
- You have a history of mental health issues
- You have a history of substance abuse
If you’re unable to receive nitrous oxide sedation and are anxious about your dental visit, talk to your dentist about it. They’ll likely be able to suggest an alternative and help with your unease.
Safe and Painless Dentistry
Many people feel anxious and dread their dental appointments. That’s part of the reason why nitrous oxide has found popularity in the practice. It’s becoming increasingly common for dentists to become certified to administer the gas as well as other forms of sedation.
Though nitrous oxide is great for many procedures, there are some that require stronger forms of sedation. In these cases, dentists will often opt for an oral sedative or IV sedation. IV sedation is the only type that will put you in a sleep-like state.
For a routine filling or root canal therapy, nitrous oxide is often the way to go. That way, you can be in and out of your dentist’s office in one quick trip.