Nitrous oxide – or laughing gas – is a popular method of sedation dentistry. Its appeal comes from the non-invasive ease of administration, how quickly it takes effect, and also how quickly it wears off. How does laughing gas work?
Nitrous Oxide – Laughing Gas
Nitrous oxide is administered as a mixture of N2O (nitrous oxide) and O2 (oxygen). Nitrous oxide works by inhaling the gas-air through a nosepiece. This gas-air mixture has an analgesic effect which can reduce pain and cause a mild state of euphoria. During administration, your dentist will carefully monitor your sedation level and adjust the levels as needed.
Is Laughing Gas Safe?
Yes! Nitrous oxide is considered one of the safest sedation techniques available, however, there are some contraindications for its use so it is important to discuss your medical history with your dentist. Contraindications include (but aren’t limited to):
- Nasal Obstruction
- Increased Intracranial Pressure
- Patient Unable to Effectively Communicate
- Alcoholic or Recovering Alcoholic
- Patient Refusal
Other possible contraindications which should be carefully evaluated by your dentist before use include pregnancy, usage of marijuana or other hallucinogenic drugs, pulmonary disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), immunocompromised, psychiatric patients or those highly susceptible to mental disorders, blocked eustachian tube/middle ear, respiratory infection, extreme apprehensiveness, or previous exposure less than a week apart. If at any time, you become nauseous or are having trouble staying awake, tell your dentist or remove the mask.
While nitrous oxide reduces the sensation of pain, it should also never be used as a sole means of pain management.