Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is the most common sedative used in dentistry. It’s a non-irritating, colorless gas that helps you relax and is safe to breathe. It is administered through a mask that is placed over your nose, allowing you to inhale it throughout your treatment or surgery. Patients often fall asleep, or experience mild amnesia and don’t remember what happened during their procedure.
Advantages to Using Nitrous Oxide
There are many reasons you might want to use nitrous oxide during your treatment, including the following:
- The level of sedation can be adjusted at any time, either to increase or decrease sedation depending on your comfort level.
- Inhalation of nitrous oxide is safe, with no side effects to your heart, lungs, or other organs.
- Likewise, there is no unpleasant after-effect or “hangover” when you come to.
- If you have trouble gagging during dental procedures, inhalation sedation is very effective at minimizing it.
- Nitrous oxide works quickly, reaching the brain within 20 seconds.
Reasons Not to Use Nitrous Oxide
While nitrous oxide is safe, you might want to avoid using it if:
- You have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- You have emphysema, exotic chest problems, asthma, or multiple sclerosis
- You have a cold
- You have any other difficulty breathing
If you have any of the above conditions, talk to your dentist about alternate methods of sedation or anesthesia that are available.
If you’re concerned about how you might react to the gas, you can ask your dentist for a short trial to see how you feel about it before proceeding.