All About Laughing Gas: What You Should Know Before Your Next Dental Visit

Jul 8, 2022

Wouldn’t you love to just relax and feel no pain or anxiety during a dental procedure? It’s not so farfetched! In fact, once you know all about laughing gas, you could even enjoy your dental treatments!

If you’re scheduled for a dental appointment in the near future, there’s a good chance your dentist will offer you the option of sedation with nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas.

Here is all you need to know about this type of sedation: what it is, how it works, and what to expect. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to ask your dentist! As your local dentist in Phoenix, we are here to help you for your dental needs in Arizona. 

What is nitrous oxide? All about laughing gas

Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless gas that has been used for sedation purposes for over 150 years. When inhaled, nitrous oxide enters the bloodstream and quickly produces feelings of relaxation.

History of nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide was first discovered in the late 18th century by chemist Joseph Priestley. However, it wasn’t until the early 19th century that its anesthesia properties were first recognized and used. Dentist Horace Wells first did this during a dental extraction procedure in 1844.

Since then, laughing gas has been used all over the world for all sorts of medical procedures, including childbirth, surgery, and dentistry.

Modern uses and adaptations

Nowadays, nitrous oxide is commonly used as a form of sedation for dental procedures. It is especially useful for patients who experience anxiety or fear when visiting the dentist.

Nitrous oxide can be used for all types of dental procedures, from simple cleanings to more complex treatments like root canals or wisdom tooth extractions.

Why is it also called laughing gas?

The term “laughing gas” was coined by British chemist Humphry Davy, who discovered the sedative properties of nitrous oxide in 1799. He found that inhaling the gas caused people to feel giddy and laugh uncontrollably – hence the name!

Many medical practitioners who utilize nitrous oxide find that the name laughing gas makes it much easier to understand and more appealing to patients.

What does nitrous oxide/laughing gas do?

When inhaled, nitrous oxide has several effects on the body: it decreases anxiety, reduces pain sensations, and can cause mild euphoria. These effects make it an ideal sedative for dental procedures.

Many people report feeling anxious about dental procedures. In fact,  dental anxiety is a very real and common thing! If you suffer from dental anxiety, nitrous oxide can help you feel more relaxed during your appointment.

What are the side effects of laughing gas?

The most common side effect of nitrous oxide is dizziness, which is why you will be asked to sit in a chair or lie down during your procedure. You may also experience some nausea or vomiting, but this is usually only temporary and goes away once the gas wears off.

Other less common side effects include headache, drowsiness, lightheadedness, loss of coordination, a slight tingling sensation, and increased heart rate.

It’s important to note that all of these side effects are temporary and will go away once the gas wears off at the end of your successful dental visit.

What are the benefits of laughing gas?

One of the biggest advantages of using nitrous oxide for sedation is that it takes effect very quickly – within minutes of inhaling it. The effects also wear off quickly, so you can drive yourself home after your appointment!

Nitrous oxide is also very safe; serious side effects are extremely rare. One of the biggest benefits of laughing gas is that it is safe for all ages, unlike some other forms of sedatives.

Nitrous oxide sedation for children

Nitrous oxide is often used in pediatric dentistry to sedate children for dental procedures. It is very effective at reducing anxiety and helping kids to feel more relaxed during their appointment.

However, some children might not like the feeling of the mask on their faces. Thus, if you plan to have the dentist administer nitrous oxide to your child, you should prepare your child for the experience. Explain that the mask and detailing that they may feel dizzy or like their limbs are heavier than usual.

All about laughing gas: who isn’t a candidate?

There are very few people who cannot safely use nitrous oxide for sedation. However, if you are pregnant or have certain medical conditions, your dentist may recommend another type of sedation. Be sure to discuss all of your options with your dentist before your procedure.

Some people with severe claustrophobia may not like the idea of having a mask on their face. However, this can be avoided by having the attending medical professionals hold the mask above/off the face during the initial flow.

Once the patient has received enough nitrous oxide they feel calm and relaxed and willing to wear the mask for the rest of the procedure.

How to prepare for dental procedures that involve laughing gas

If you will be using nitrous oxide for sedation during your dental treatment, there is no special preparation required! Just eat a normal meal beforehand and wear comfortable clothing. You don’t even have to make sure someone else can drive you home after your appointment since the effects wear off so quickly!

How long do the effects of laughing gas last?

The effects of nitrous oxide wear off very quickly – within minutes of removing the mask. You will be able to drive yourself home and resume all normal activities immediately after your dental procedure.

Again, this is one of the biggest benefits of laughing gas. Unlike general anesthesia which can take hours to recover from, you shouldn’t have any lingering side effects from laughing gas. Most patients prefer this over the after-effects of other sedatives.

Why do some dentists use laughing gas?

There are many reasons why dentists may choose to use nitrous oxide for sedation. It is safe, effective, and can be used for both adults and children. It also takes effect very quickly and wears off just as quickly, so you can get back to your busy life!

A recent study found that 60% of Americans find visiting the dentist stressful. But with laughing gas, you won’t feel pain or anxiety during your treatment. That’s a win for you and your dental team!

Does 19th Avenue Dental Care use nitrous oxide?

Yes, we do! We know all about laughing gas and understand that is a great way to help our patients feel relaxed and comfortable during their dental procedures. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Scheduling a dental appointment

Do you have an upcoming dental procedure? If you are interested in scheduling your next appointment with our caring team at 19th Ave. Dental Care, please call us at (602) 433-0313 or book online.

We would be happy to answer any of your questions about nitrous oxide use or other dental care to help you choose the best treatment option for your needs.