Nitrous Oxide: The Sedative Better Known as Laughing Gas

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While common, dental visits shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, there are those who require a dental anesthetic to get them through—especially when the procedure is more extensive. When this is the case, there are various options your dentist will have to choose from. For the anxious or nervous patient, laughing gas is the dentist’s “go-to” sedative.

Technically known as nitrous oxide, laughing gas is the safest anesthetic for dentists who believe a sedative is the right choice for a particular procedure or patient. Laughing gas can be used by itself or with other dental anesthetics as required.

There is no odor with nitrous oxide, and its popular use by dentists is because of its competency in quickly relaxing patients, dulling pain, and producing a pleasing, even euphoric feeling. Thus, its cheerful moniker “laughing gas”. Also, its effects are easily eradicated from the system simply by introducing oxygen.

While not common, some people may encounter side effects. This may occur, and only when the level of laughing gas inhaled is too high, or the nitrous oxide is not fully purged from the lungs afterward.

Potential Side Effects:

– Shivering

– Sweating

– Headache

– Nausea and Vomiting

– Fatigue

After finishing a dental visit where laughing gas was administered, the dentist gives oxygen to the patient to remove any remaining gas from the lungs, returning the patient to normal alertness. This also avoids a headache.

While it is suggested that the potential patient eat something light before an operation where nitrous oxide will be used, but that they should keep from eating anything for at least 3 hours post-visit. Also, check with your dentist if you will be driving.

Dr. Stephen Babin would be pleased to answer your questions regarding dental anesthesia. Please contact Stephen Babin DDS at: 504-887-2428, or drop by in Metairie, Louisiana.