Better known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide has long been used in sedation dentistry to help patients relax and endure treatment. Laughing gas is considered safe for all, even for little kids, but does it carry any risks?
Folks used to believe nitrous oxide was as harmless as oxygen. We’ve since learned that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Inhaling too much nitrous oxide can essentially block out oxygen. This is where the danger comes in – you can suffocate just by breathing in too much. It has to be mixed with pure oxygen to be used in dentistry.
What Nitrous Does
Laughing gas is given through a closed system of tubes with a continuous vacuum. The gas comes in through one tube where it’s inhaled and then the exhaled gas flows out the other pipe to a waste disposal.
No one can say for sure how nitrous depresses the central nervous system. All we know is that, similar to alcohol, nitrous slows down brain response. This dulls pain, lessens anxiety, and creates a sense of careless euphoria.
All this is well and good for the patient, but the clinician administering it has to pay careful attention.
The dentist or other trained medical professional carefully monitors the nitrogen-oxygen ratio. Once the patient starts feeling the effects of the gas, the flow is kept at that ratio. As soon as the anesthesia is no longer needed, the oxygen is increased to flush out the laughing gas.
The only risk to using laughing gas is using too much at one time. As long as a trained professional is administering and monitoring the gas flow, it’s perfectly safe. Ask your dentist for more information on anesthesia safety.
Posted on behalf of:
Green Dental of Alexandria
1725 Duke St
Alexandria, VA 22314
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