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Nitrous (Laughing) Gas

Laughing gas inhalation sedation is highly effective in the management of mild to moderate levels of dental anxiety. It also is an excellent technique in persons who are extreme gaggers. Laughing gas usually eliminates or minimizes gagging in most patients. Nitrous oxide is used in roughly one-third of dental practices in the United States. The benefits of nitrous oxide are many, and the risks are few.

The gas is administered with a comfortable mask placed over the nose, and the patient is instructed to breathe in through the nose and out through their mouth. The patient begins to feel a pleasant level of sedation anywhere from 30 seconds to three or four minutes. The cheeks and gums will also begin to feel numb in about a third of the patient

After the gas is adjusted to the appropriate dose and the patient is relaxed and sedated, the dentist can comfortably proceed with the dental treatment. After treatment, the patient is given pure oxygen to breathe for about five minutes, and all the effects of sedation are usually reversed. Unlike IV sedation or general anesthesia, the patient can almost always leave the office by themselves, without an escort.

Nitrous oxide has few side effects. High doses can cause nausea in some patients, and about 10 percent of patients do not benefit from it. Patients that are claustrophobic or have blocked nasal passages cannot use nitrous oxide effectively. Nitrous oxide is one of the safest anesthetics and or analgesics available.

Nitrous oxide especially useful for fearful patients as well as young children. The effect of nitrous oxide is often remarkable. A patient that was anxious just a minute or two before treatment will become relaxed and calm. If you are nervous before or during dental treatment, nitrous oxide works wonders!


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