You’ve probably heard of the “laughing gas” that some dentists use to help their patients relax. But you may not know all the details about this form of dental sedation. That’s why we’ve compiled the information in this blog; to explain a little more about laughing gas so you can decide whether or not it might help you during your next dental procedure.
The actual name of this form of sedation is dental nitrous oxide. It’s a mild sedative that is combined with oxygen and administered to patients through a small nose piece immediately before a dental procedure. Laughing gas usually takes about 5 minutes to take effect, and it leaves the patient feeling relaxed but still completely aware of what’s happening during the procedure. Most people report feeling a little drowsy and entirely at ease while under the influence of the sedation. And, just as the name implies, laughing gas can also make you feel a little giddy.
This colorless, odorless gas is often an excellent choice for people who have some amount of anxiety about visiting the dentist. It can be safely used on any age patient, from children to seniors. It’s an effective way to reduce anxiety and help the patient to relax. But it may not be a strong enough method of sedation for those patients who feel extreme fear of going to the dentist. For those individuals, some other method – such as oral sedation or even IV sedation – may be a more appropriate choice.
Unlike other more potent methods of sedation, laughing gas usually wears off quickly after the dental procedure is complete. Patients who undergo other stronger forms of sedation often need to arrange for a ride to and from their dental appointments, but most people are able to drive themselves home after the nitrous oxide wears off.
While the majority of patients experience no side effects whatsoever from laughing gas, that may not be true for everyone. Some people may have one or more of the following side effects after being exposed to nitrous oxide:
- Blurry vision
- Feeling tipsy
If you feel anxious about visiting the dentist, laughing gas might help. To find out more information, and to determine whether or not this is the right dental sedation for you, talk to your dentist. And remember, if you feel extreme anxiety about your next dental procedure, there are a variety of other dental sedation methods available to help you relax.