Nitrous oxide—also known as “laughing gas”—is a safe sedative compound that is mixed with oxygen. The gas is meant to be inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose. This sedative is used in dentistry to help patients relax and feel comfortable. Unlike other sedatives, nitrous oxide is not intended to put you to sleep; instead, it is used for calming purposes.
Benefits of Dental Nitrous Oxide
- Relaxing effects. Nitrous oxide is a safe way for us to help more nervous or anxious patients relax during certain procedures.
- Reduces gag reflex. Nitrous oxide allows us to effectively work on your teeth and gums without inducing your natural gag reflex.
- Allows you to remain responsive. Nitrous oxide relaxes you while still leaving you capable of rational thought and speech.
- Doesn’t put you to sleep. In dentistry, nitrous oxide is used more as a relaxant than a means to make you fall asleep. We give you just enough to relax—a small dose—without making you feel drowsy.
- No lingering effects. Because we increase the oxygen level after the procedure has been completed, the nitrous oxide completely leaves your system, eliminating any lingering effects on your body.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation Process
- Wearing the mask – We will provide you with a small mask to wear over your nose. A small band will allow you to firmly secure the mask to your face.
- Inhalation – We will then ask you to continue to breathe normally through your nose as we begin to slowly administer the nitrous oxide through the mask.
- Nitrous oxide absorption – Within a few minutes, you should start to feel the effects of the nitrous oxide. You may feel slightly light-headed or a slight tingling in your arms and legs; some patients have mentioned feeling a heaviness in their arms and legs. Eventually, you should start to feel more calm and comfortable within this short time span.
- Oxygen absorption – Following the procedure, we will increase the levels of oxygen you are receiving through your mask so the nitrous fully leaves your system.