It is estimated that between 9 and 15% of American adults avoid going to the dentist because of fear. Studies show that fear of the dentist is more often due to society’s misplaced belief that dental treatments are all painful more so than an actual painful experience. Dentists use nitrous oxide to help patients have a relaxed and pain free dental visit.
Nitrous oxide, often referred to as laughing gas, is used by dentists to help patients relax during treatment. It is a safe sedative that is combined with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask during treatment. This mild sedative will not put a patient to sleep. Patients are able to hear and respond to questions. They may experience some sensations of lightheadedness or tingling in the arms and legs. Once treatment is complete and the mask is removed the effects of nitrous oxide fade quickly as fresh air is breathed into the lungs.
What is nitrous oxide?
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is a safe and effective sedative agent that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose to help you relax. It has an ADA seal of acceptance. Nitrous oxide is a very benign, safe, and simple drug to use. The strength of the sedative effect depends upon the concentration of nitrous oxide that is inhaled.
Why would you use nitrous oxide?
Nitrous oxide is used on patients for two reasons. First, when patients are undergoing a procedure that may take a long time or an uncomfortable treatment, nitrous oxide can help them to relax and be comfortable throughout treatment. Nitrous oxide is also helpful for patients who suffer from dental anxiety or for children or those with special needs who may not understand the importance of dental care or be able to sit still during treatment. Dentists have extensive training in the use of nitrous oxide and other sedation techniques to ensure that all patients receive the appropriate dosage to keep them calm and relaxed throughout treatment.
How does laughing gas work?
The effects of nitrous oxide are easily controlled by the patient simply by breathing more or less room air through the mouth. Additional nitrous can be administered throughout your procedure to keep you in a state of euphoria. At the conclusion of your treatment, you’ll be given oxygen to help ‘snap’ you out of your sedated state.
Dentists are dedicated to providing the best possible patient care. They understand that the needs of each person are unique and they take the time to listen to them and address their concerns with an approach tailored to their needs.