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Nitrous Oxide ("Laughing Gas") is a colorless, slightly sweet-smelling gas that is blended with oxygen and administered through a nasal mask. Its safety has been well-established, and the sedation effect wears off quickly so there is no extended recovery time. It can be used for both children and adults. Nitrous oxide has a very calming effect, even though the patient remains in control. It takes effect quickly, and there is very rapid recovery period.
Why is Nitrous Oxide Recommended?
Some people have had an unpleasant dental experience earlier in life. In addition, negative stories told by others and the dental "horrors" depicted in comic strips, television, and movies have served to increase anxiety for many people who anticipate a dental visit. Nitrous oxide seems to be especially effective to help relieve anxiety associated with a trip to the dentist. It is also helpful for those people who have an "overactive gag reflex." It simply helps the patient to relax. A relaxed, cooperative, and informed patient helps facilitate the dentist's work and allow the patient a more pleasant visit. Nitrous oxide is also a valuable tool for pain control. Some treatment procedures may be completed without any other anesthesia.
Will it eliminate "the shot"?
Not in all procedures, but nitrous oxide makes the injection much more comfortable. Nobody absolutely needs nitrous oxide, although it makes dental visits much more comfortable. It is highly recommended for children who have any anxiety or fears about their dental appointments. Why be uncomfortable if something so safe and easy is available? Anything that can make your dental experiences more comfortable is what we are interested in providing for you.
Nitrous Oxide Lets You Stay in Control
Many people fear being out of control. One of the advantages of nitrous oxide is that it is a conscious anesthetic, which means you will be awake and in control even though you are sedated. You will be able to communicate throughout the procedures and tell the dentist if you experience any discomfort. Nitrous oxide can be discontinued at any time and within five minutes you feel as you did before the nitrous oxide was administered.
Nitrous Oxide is Not Suitable for Everyone
There are some patients who would not benefit from nitrous oxide. Those patients with severe anxiety may need referral treatment under IV sedation or general anesthesia. Children who are not old enough to understand what is happening, patients with comprehension or communication difficulties, patients with acute/severe asthma or other respiratory problems such as emphysema, patients with nose/throat obstructions or fear of a nasal mask, or pregnant women (especially in the first six months) are not good candidates for nitrous oxide.
Are There any Special Instructions for Nitrous Oxide/Oxygen?
Little or no food should be eaten before the dental visit. Occasionally nitrous oxide will cause nausea or vomiting on a full stomach. It is preferable to have no intake of solid foods (including milk and milk products) within four hours of the nitrous oxide appointment. It is advisable to avoid clear fluids within two hours of the appointment. If you have any respiratory condition that makes breathing through your nose difficult, it may limit the effectiveness of nitrous oxide. Please inform the dentist/staff of any medications you are taking the day of your appointment.
Nitrous oxide is a conscious-sedation — you are in control. It is a time-tested, safe, and effective method of relieving anxiety and discomfort that sometimes may accompany a dental visit. Nitrous oxide anesthesia is one of the many ways that modern dentistry strives to make your dental visit pleasant and effective.