Laughing gas is the layman’s terms for nitrous oxide. It is commonly used in dental offices to reduce stress, anxiety and pain for patients during dental procedures. It is a colourless and odourless gas that is inhaled through the nose for a determined amount of time during the procedure.
How Does it Work?
Once seated in the dental chair, a small “hood” like a mask is placed over your nose, and you will be instructed to breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. The nitrous oxide you inhale will begin making you feel relaxed within 30 seconds to a few minutes. The nitrous oxide may be used just for the beginning of the appointment (such as only when administering a local anesthetic to numb the area) or for the duration of an appointment. Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored during the use of nitrous oxide to prevent any adverse responses. At the end of use, oxygen will be pumped through the nosepiece to negate the effects of the nitrous oxide and reduce post-operative symptoms such as nausea. It is recommended not to eat for 3-4 hours before receiving nitrous oxide to reduce the risk of nausea.
Who is a Candidate for Nitrous Oxide?
Any patient, child or adult, who has fear or anxiety related to dental procedures is a great candidate for nitrous oxide. Also, any patient with a gag reflex can benefit from nitrous oxide to reduce the gag reflex.
Is it Safe?
Yes, it is. Nitrous oxide is safe when used in the correct manner, in the right dose, when administered by a certified specialist such as your dentist or oral surgeon. Only a small amount of patients experience side effects. Potential side effects can include nausea, headache, sweating, shivering and fatigue. However, for the majority of patients, there are no adverse side effects.