Nitrous Oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas” is a clear gas that is administered through a nasal mask.
Because it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs, it helps calm nervous patients in a timely manner.
Common characteristics and benefits of nitrous oxide sedation
Reduces anxiety quickly
Reduces gag reflex
Has few-to-no lingering after effects
What to know about nitrous sedation for dentistry?
Nitrous oxide is the same as “laughing gas”
Nitrous oxide was discovered in the 1770s and has been used medically for centuries under its more commonly used name, “laughing gas”.
The gas has retained its more common name because it produces a slight tingling sensation and a pleasant intoxicating numbness when inhaled.
Nitrous sedation is simple to administer
To feel the sedative effects of nitrous oxide, a facemask is fitted over the nose and the gas is mixed with oxygen.
You will start to feel the effects within minutes and no needles or pills are required (as with IV or oral sedation).
Nitrous sedation is safe
When compared with general anesthesia, nitrous sedation is considered far less risky. Adverse events with laughing gas are few and far between and the effects wear off quickly (within a few minutes) once the facemask is off.
The main danger with nitrous sedation is that it may disorient you so that you trip or fall if you stand up too quickly. However, you may be able to drive home after the procedure because there is generally no “hangover” effect as there can be with pill-based sedation.
Nitrous sedation has other benefits over other anesthetics
As well as being safe, nitrous sedation is a flexible and effective way to produce relaxation for anxious dental patients. It is easy to prepare for and simple to administer, fast-acting, well-tolerated and has few side effects. It is also easy to change doses and the increase or decrease begins to work in minutes.
Other forms of sedation like IV and oral sedation, which involve needles and pills, generally require more preparation to administer.
What are the potential side effects of nitrous sedation?
Adverse reactions to nitrous sedation are rare. Most problems occur from a patient receiving too much nitrous oxide too quickly.
Side effects may include:
Nausea or vomiting
The dentists at Sierra Dental are trained in administering nitrous oxide doses, according to patient requirements. We provide specific instructions about preparing yourself if you are to undergo nitrous oxide sedation, including avoiding eating for three hours before the procedure.
Headaches and other side effects are usually avoided as patients receive oxygen for at least five minutes after the nitrous oxide is turned off.
Is nitrous oxide safe for children?
Nitrous oxide can usually be administered to children. This can be of great assistance to dentists with young patients who experience anxiety when sitting in the dentist’s chair but need important dental work done.
Children may experience a greater risk of nausea or difficulties wearing the mask than adult patients but most tolerate nitrous sedation quite well.
Who shouldn’t use nitrous sedation?
Nitrous oxide has been of great benefit to many patients and dentists over the years but it is not for everyone.
You should discuss dental anxiety and general health matters with your dentist, who may not recommend the use of nitrous sedation if any of the following applies to you:
You are in the first trimester of pregnancy
You have a history of respiratory illnesses, e.g., COPD
You have a vitamin B-12 deficiency
You have a history of substance abuse
You suffer from mental health conditions
Some other conditions may preclude the use of nitrous oxide in your case, so it is important to be upfront with your dentist at your initial consultation.
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