Nitrous oxide gas has been used in dentistry for decades…and for a great reason! Nitrous is the most common type of dental sedation and is still one of the most effective, fastest ways to alleviate anxiety or minor discomfort during dental appointments. Low concentrations are mixed with oxygen for an onset time of just a few minutes. Patients typically feel very relaxed, slightly tingly in the toes or fingers, and in some cases even get a case of the giggles (hence the nickname “laughing gas.”)
Many people don’t realize that nitrous oxide is available to them as an option during their treatments. Most dental offices have full access to nitrous in their treatment rooms, and it is very easy to add onto any dental appointment. If your office charges for the service, the fee is typically very small. Once the treatment is over, the patient is placed on 100% oxygen for 5 minutes, allowing the nitrous to fully purge itself from their respiratory system. Afterwards patients are back to their regular state and fully capable of all other daily activities, including driving themselves home or going back to work after having the gas.
Typically the only contraindication to nitrous oxide is for patients that have nasal congestion, preventing them from breathing comfortably through their nose during their dental appointment. Because nitrous gas is delivered through a nose piece, the patient needs to be able to refrain from breathing through their mouth during the appointment, otherwise they won’t get the benefits of the gas.
If anxiety about dental care has kept you from scheduling a dental appointment, even if it’s a cleaning, feel free to ask your dentist about using nitrous oxide during your next visit.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Byron Scott, Springhill Dental Health Center
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