What is Nitrous Oxide Sedation?

Nitrous Oxide gas was previously referred to as laughing gas because of its euphoric effects. It is an extremely safe sedative gas used in the dental office and hospitals to calm anxious patients and children down.

How is Nitrous Oxide administered?

Laughing gas is administered through a small nose piece (nasal mask) as shown in the image below. It is always mixed with ample amounts of oxygen and is one of the safest methods of sedation out there.

Nitrous Oxide nose piece

What are the effects of this gas?

Nitrous oxide’s effect are often described as euphoric and sedative. It relaxes the body and the muscles and patients most often feel a slight tingling in the toes and finger tips. Nitrous oxide does not usually replace local anesthetic but can often complement it and make the process of administration of local anesthetic much easier and painless for the patients. It has mild analgesic or painkiller properties. Some patients describe the feeling as “flying” or feeling light headed and this helps them zone out of the anxiety associated with a dental appointment.

Do I still needing “freezing” or local anesthesia?

The short answer is YES. Freezing is performed to ensure pain-free dentistry. While laughing gas can make this process much smoother and easier on you – you will still feel pain if the tooth or the area is not adequately numbed. A number of our patients opt to be sedated for the duration of local anesthesia administration due to the fear of needles. For some minor cavities and dental work, we can often skip local anesthesia in the presence of nitrous oxide sedation.

How long do the effects last? Do I need to be escorted home or can I drive home?

This type of sedation is only temporary and lasts as long as the gas is being delivered to your lungs. Fortunately, when the mask is removed, the effects are reversed back to normal in less than 5 minutes meaning you don’t need somebody to come and pick you up or keep an eye on you! This is one of the biggest advantages of laughing gas over other forms of sedation.

Are there any reasons why I SHOULD NOT get nitrous oxide?

YES very few! Nitrous oxide is not recommended for patients that have a bad respiratory system such as people with uncontrolled acute asthmatic attacks or those with a severely congested nasal passage. Nitrous oxide is to be avoided in patients with pregnancy or those that suspect a pregnancy.

What precautions should I be following before and after my appointment?

Nitrous oxide works best and is the safest when you have an empty stomach. We ask that you do not eat or drink anything for at least 4 hours before your appointment. We ensure that you’re back to normal by flushing your system with oxygen before discharging you but most often because your lips and/or tongue will be numb, you must avoid eating till the freezing wears off if you had any local anesthesia administered. Some patients may get a mild headache after their appointment which should resolve on its own.

What are the alternatives to Nitrous Oxide?

Oral sedation and I.V. Sedation or General Anesthesia are the more powerful alternatives.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation has helped millions of patients and children get the dental treatment they need in a safe and easy manner. We provide free consultations for sedation dentistry! Ask us if you are a good candidate for Nitrous Oxide.