Nitrous Oxide

Laughing Gas

Nitrous Oxide (abbreviated N2O) is an odorless gas which is mixed with Oxygen and inhaled through the nose. It is also known as “laughing gas,” although this may be a bit of a misnomer. While a select few patients may get a slight case of the giggles, for most people the effect is much more subtle. You will remain conscious with nitrous oxide, and are able to answer questions throughout having the gas. However, you will experience a sense of calm, a relaxed, heavy feeling in the limbs, a decreased perception of pain or discomfort, a suppressed gag reflex, and a general feeling of well-being.

  • Nitrous Oxide is a sweet-smelling, non-irritating, colorless gas which you can breathe.
  • Nitrous Oxide has been the primary means of sedation in dentistry for many years. Nitrous oxide is safe, the patient receives 50-70% oxygen with no less than 30% nitrous oxide.
  • The patient is able to breathe on their own and remain in control of all bodily functions.
  • The patient may experience mild amnesia and may fall asleep, not remembering all of what happened during their appointment.

After completing your treatment with N2O, you will breathe pure Oxygen for about five minutes. At this point, the effects will be completely gone! There is no need for a driver to take you home, and no groggy feeling afterward. In fact, many patients feel relaxed and refreshed afterward! A relaxing dental experience will definitely keep you smiling –and maybe even laughing!

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 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.

You may want to ask your dentist for a “5 minute trial” to see how you feel with this type of sedation method before proceeding.