What You Need to Know about Nitrous Oxide

  • Do you experience debilitating anxiety about your dental visits?
  • Have a tough time sitting still for dental cleanings/procedures?
  • Are you hard to numb, or are resistant to Local Anesthesia?
  • Can’t stop gagging when the dentist puts instruments in your mouth ?

Then Nitrous Oxide Sedation can ensure a much more successful dental visit for you!

But what exactly is laughing gas? What is it used for? And are there any risks associated with it?

What Does Nitrous Oxide Do?

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a mild sedative agent that safely and effectively manages your anxiety and pain during dental visits. The nitrous oxide is colorless and odorless; mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose. You are asked to breathe normally and should feel the effects of the laughing gas within minutes.

Nitrous Oxide does not necessarily make you laugh. But you will feel happy and relaxed. The nitrous oxide slows down your nervous system to make you feel less inhibited. You may feel light-headed, tingly, or heaviness in your arms or legs. Most patients experience a sense of calm and comfort throughout the procedure.

The Benefits of Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective method for sedation and pain management. It works quickly to relax you, and the effects wear off quickly by breathing pure oxygen through a mask. Plus, the nitrous oxide does not put you to sleep, so you can hear and respond to any of the dentist’s questions or instructions. A big benefit is that you will be able to drive to and from your dental visits after using Nitrous Oxide.

Is Nitrous Oxide Right for Me?

Find out if nitrous oxide dentistry from Impeccable Smiles is the right choice for your dental needs.

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The Side Effects of Nitrous Oxide

Most patients do not experience adverse reactions. However, they can occur if the nitrous oxide levels rise too high or you stay on it too long. With Nitrous Oxide it is best to eat a meal before your nitrous dental visit. You will have a reduced incidence of side effects.

The most common side effects of too much nitrous, include:

  • Headaches
  • Shivering
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sleepiness

After the nitrous oxide is turned off, patients need to receive oxygen for at least five minutes to avoid headaches. The oxygen purges the remaining gas from the lungs while helping the patient become more alert and awake. Patients can also help prevent nausea or vomiting by eating lightly before the procedure and avoiding a big meal for up to three hours afterward.

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Why Does Nitrous Oxide not work on Me?

Oral sedation dentistry can help you feel calm and confident when you need dental treatments.

A select few are not affected by Nitrous Oxide. Those people include individuals who have had many surgeries and were given morphine level medications, individuals on long standing drug therapy for anxiety and depression or long-standing issues of drug addiction. All these medications can desensitize you to the sedative benefits of Nitrous Oxide.

Nitrous Oxide is Not For You If . . .?

While nitrous oxide is considered a safe and effective sedative, it might not be the right choice for you. The AAPD lists several risk factors for using laughing gas. Tell your dentist if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Currently in the first trimester of pregnancy – risks for birth defects at that stage
  • A history of respiratory illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • A vitamin B-12 deficiency – Nitrous reduces efficacy of Vitamin B-12
  • A history of substance abuse – desensitizes you so nitrous is not strong enough.
  • An enzyme condition methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency – MTHFR gene
  • A history of mental health conditions- taking SSRI’s; anxiety and depression medication

Nitrous Oxide is a useful tool for easing anxiety and pain during dental procedures while still being able to drive yourself to and from your dental visit. If you think you might benefit from using nitrous oxide for your next appointment or operation, talk to our team about available options.