What is nitrous oxide?
Nitrous oxide is a colorless gas with a slightly sweet odor and has been used in medicine for about a century; however its outdated nickname, “laughing gas,” is undeserved. It's a safe and effective method of administering conscious sedation — which means that you'll stay awake during the procedure.
What are the benefits of nitrous oxide?
One of the most common reasons patients request nitrous oxide is to relieve fear and anxiety about their dental procedure. Nitrous oxide is great because even though the patient is not fully asleep, their fear and anxiety is greatly reduced due to the depressant effects of the gas.
As a depressant, nitrous slows one’s body down. Once it kicks in, the patient may feel happy, relaxed, light-headed, or mildly euphoric. Sometimes, patients’ arms and legs can feel heavy or tingly. Patients can receive dental care while not being worried or afraid, and they can still respond to questions or comments from the dentist and his or her staff. In addition, another benefit of nitrous oxide is that after just a few minutes of being on oxygen at the end of the procedure, the patient will feel completely normal again.
The effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly afterwards. There is no need for the patient to have someone to drive them home, and there are no lingering effects of the gas on the patient for the remainder of the day.