What is Nitrous Oxide?

Mother holding her baby
What is Nitrous Oxide?

Abigale caught a glimpse of her 5 year old son Kevin in the backseat as they drove to the dentist. How on earth were they going to make it through this appointment? Kevin never stopped moving! Abigale had visions of herself and three dental assistants holding Kevin down just so the dentist could look at his teeth. But Abigale trusted her neighbor who recommended she take Kevin to Drs. Martin and Taylor. “They have a magic potion, I tell you! If it worked for my daughter Emily, it’ll work for Kevin! They call it laughing gas, but I was the one laughing with joy at how great Emily did!”

What is Laughing Gas a.k.a. Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a gas which, when mixed with oxygen and inhaled, produces sensations of relaxation and well-being. It’s odorless and non-irritating as it is inhaled through the nose. American dentistHorace Wells,pioneered the use of nitrous oxide as a surgical anesthesia back in 1844. Nitrous oxide has been used in general medicine and dentistry for well over 100 years.  It is an incredibly safe and effective sedation which can be used in both adults and children. For adults who have any dental phobia, nitrous oxide is a game changer. Many who have neglected their teeth for too long because of their fear of the dentist, find that laughing gas makes going to the dentist beyond easy. With its lack of side effects and the ability for it to be so precisely administered, nitrous oxide makes trips to the dentist, even for very young children, incredibly easy, stress-free and safe.

What are the advantages of nitrous oxide?

  • Nitrous oxide works very rapidly – it reaches the brain within 20 seconds, and relaxation and pain-killing properties develop after 2 or 3 minutes.
  • There’s no “hangover” effect – the gas is eliminated from the body within 3 to 5 minutes after the gas supply is stopped. You can safely drive home and don’t need an escort.
  • With nitrous oxide, an inhalation sedation, it’s easy to give incremental doses until the desired action is obtained (this is called “titration”). So the administrator has virtually absolute control over the action of the drug, preventing the possibility of accidental overdoses. While giving incremental doses is also possible with IV sedation, it’s not possible with oral sedation.
  • No injection is required. In cases of very severe needle phobia, getting laughing gas first can help you feel relaxed enough to allow local anesthesia to be comfortably administered.
  • Inhalation sedation is very safe. It has no side effects and the drugs used have no ill effects on the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain.
  • Inhalation sedation has been found to be very effective in eliminating or at least minimizing severe gagging.

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