Dental Tips Blog


Does Nitrous Oxide Have Any Risks?

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?

Quantity Matters

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
(703) 549-1725


When is Nitrous Oxide Not an Option?

“Laughing gas” has long been used in dentistry as a fast-acting, safe, and effective way to help patients relax during their treatment. Although its technical name is nitrous oxide, it’s known by some as laughing gas due to its ability to help people feel very light-hearted or even catch a case of the giggles when they’re inhaling the gas. 

Just about anyone can elect to use nitrous during their dental treatment. From regular cleanings to dental extractions, nitrous oxide provides full effects in just a few minutes and is completely reversed within about 5 minutes of being turned off. However, there are some circumstances where a patient may not be a candidate for nitrous oxide use. Some examples include patients with: 

  • Severe allergies or sinus infections
  • Sinus obstructions or difficulty breathing through their nose; People with COPD
  • A tendency to feel claustrophobic
  • Women in their first trimester of pregnancy
  • Certain severe medical conditions (sickle cell, heart failure, MS, otitis media, etc…) 

Because the gas must be inhaled through the nose, it is contraindicated for people who cannot breath through their nose. Medical contraindications are less frequent, but still something that dentists see on a routine basis. It is extremely important that you review your current medications and medical history with your dentist, even if you feel that it’s nothing that they need to know. Failing to disclose a medical condition could result in drug interactions or side effects with nitrous oxide or other commonly used drugs in dentistry. 

If you’re not sure whether or not nitrous oxide is contraindicated for your personal need, ask your dentist during your next check up.

Posted on behalf of Find Local Dentists


Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous Oxide has long been used in dentistry as a way to help patients relax during their procedure. In fact, it’s also used in the medical field as a way to help ease patients into anesthesia. Formerly called “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is known to occasionally give someone the giggles, but for most people it simply helps them feel at ease.

To administer nitrous oxide sedation, patients wear a small nosepiece during their dental procedure. This allows them to breath in a carefully monitored concentration of pure oxygen and nitrous oxide. Once the patient begins breathing it in, effects take place in just a couple of minutes. Relaxation across the entire body and sometimes a light tingling feeling in the fingers and toes is the desired effect. Although conscious, patients are much more at ease as well as have a lessened sense of discomfort. After the effects have kicked in, the dentist can begin with any injections or other procedures that are necessary.

Once your treatment is completed, it takes just 5 minutes of 100% oxygen for the nitrous oxide effects to be completely reversed. You’ll feel completely level headed again, and even be able to drive yourself back to work if you need to.

Using the gas during dental procedures is common in cases where:

  • Patients have a large treatment plan that needs to be completed
  • Anxiety about dental care makes the patient uneasy about treatment
  • The patient wants the most comfortable treatment possible
  • Children are unable to sit still or may be uncomfortable

The gas is safe for patients of all ages, but may be contraindicated if you have allergy or sinus related problems (since you won’t be able to breath well out of your nose.) If you’ve put treatment off because you’re scared or don’t want to be uncomfortable, ask your dentist about using nitrous oxide. It can be used for anything from a cleaning to an extraction!

Posted on behalf of Dan Myers



Relaxing During Your Dental Appointment

Believe it or not, it is possible to relax during a dental appointment. Although some people experience anxiety related to their dental care, many patients find it to be a nice, quite time that they can sit back and take a rest while their care is being performed. Although not everyone feels that way, there are a few techniques you can use to help enjoy your dental experience even further. Some offices will provide amenities like the ones mentioned below, but feel free to bring your own to your next appointment!

Listen to music.

A good set of headphones and your favorite playlist can help you tune out the sounds of dental equipment or background clinical noise. Your dental office may have their own iPods to borrow upon request. These days most people have music on their phone, so just remember to bring your ear buds and plug them in when you arrive. 

Bring a warm blanket and dress comfortably.

There’s nothing wrong with cuddling up in a warm blanket and loose clothing when you’re reclined for an hour or so. Clinical rooms can often seem cold and sterile to patients, so bringing something to keep you warm is fine! 

Implement essential oils or aromatherapy.

Just a dot or two of lavender oil can work wonders. Rubbing it on the wrists, or placing a light cloth over the eyes that has had a drop of oil on it can ease the nerves. 

Wear sunglasses or an eye mask.

The bright lights in a clinical environment can irritate sensitive eyes or cause people’s eyes to water. Bring some dark sunglasses, an eye mask, or ask your dental provider if you can borrow theirs. 

There’s always laughing gas.

When all else fails, there’s always nitrous oxide. Laughing gas is easy to use, has a quick onset time, and leaves a person’s system in just a few minutes, making it fine for you to drive yourself home.

Posted on behalf of Dan Myers


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