One of the key elements to achieve painless dentistry is the use of nitrous oxide, which is often known as "laughing gas". Under the influence of nitrous oxide, a patient's body still functions normally, where the patient can breathe by himself or herself. Generally, the patient will fall asleep because he or she is relaxed from the gas. The benefits of nitrous oxide are abundant and the risks are limited.
Nitrous oxide is beneficial for most patients who are afraid of the pain associated with dental procedures.
Nitrous oxide is believed to be the safest sedative in the dental industry. The gas is well tolerated, adjustable in various concentrations and non-allergenic. Moreover, its rapid onset is reversible. During the procedure, the patient still remains fully conscious; he or she keeps all natural reflexes and are capable of responding to questions or requests. Nitrous oxide can be used in combination with other sedative agents. After the procedure, physiological effects will last a minute or two for a lungful of nitrous and then mainly dissipate. Some residual effects may last up to several minutes afterwards. The effects of nitrous oxide very rapidly recede.
- As a precaution, the patient should not consume anything for about two hours prior to use of the gas
- Nitrous oxide will be administered with a comfortable mask placed over the nose
- The patient will be instructed to breathe the gas in through the nose and out through his or her mouth.
- In 30 seconds to three or four minutes, the patient will begin to feel a pleasant level of sedation.
- One third of the patient's cheeks and gums will also begin to feel numb.
- High doses of nitrous oxide may cause nausea in some patient
- 10 percent of patients do not benefit from the gas
- Nitrous oxide might not effectively work on claustrophobic patients or patients with blocked nasal passages