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Perhaps you've heard your friends or other patients in the office talk about the benefits of nitrous oxide (N202) or "laughing gas." It may be an option for you during your next dental procedure. Here are some important facts that you should review first.


Nitrous oxide is a non-allergenic, non-irritating gas that affects the central nervous system. It's one of the safest forms of sedation available and patients who have used it report very few, if any, side effects. If you're like most patients, you'll begin to feel the nitrous oxide take effect within 3-5 minutes. Following treatment the effects of this gas are completely reversed within 3-5 minutes, simply by breathing normally. In fact, you will be able to safely drive home or to work following your appointment.


What Are The Benefits Of Having Nitrous Oxide During Dental Treatment?


There are many. Following are the most common ones:


1. Nitrous oxide can make you feel more comfortable during your appointment.

2. You remain conscious and are fully aware during treatment.

3. The depth of sedation can be varied throughout your treatment as required.

4. Your gag reflex and flow of saliva are somewhat decreased.

Nitrous oxide can reduce the discomfort or anxiety associated with an injection of local anesthesia; in some cases (particularly with small children) it takes the place of an injection all together.

Most importantly, it helps to eliminate fear and reduces anxiety by helping you relax.


Who Can Have Nitrous Oxide?


Nearly all patients. There are practically no side effects associated with nitrous oxide use. Occasionally, however, asthmatic patients or those suffering from severe bronchitis or other known lung disorders may elect not to use it. Ultimately this is a decision best made by you and your dentist. Make sure you report any changes in your medical history to your dentist prior to using nitrous oxide.


How Is Nitrous Oxide Administered?


A soft rubber hood is placed over your nose. This hood is attached to equipment that regulates the amount of nitrogen and oxygen you receive. You simply breathe in and out through your nose as you would normally breathe. Toward the completion of your treatment, the nitrous will gradually be replaced with 100% oxygen, so that by the time you're ready to be dismissed, you will feel completely normal again.


How Does Nitrous Oxide Feel?


Individual patients experience its effects differently. Generally, as the depth of sedation increases, you will experience the following sensations: 

1)tingling of your hands and feet


3)numbness in your legs

4)numbness of your hands, feet, tongue and other soft tissues of your mouth

5)a ringing sensation or droning sound; your hearing may become distant, but more distinct

6)feelings of euphoria

7)feelings of heaviness or lightness in your extremities


You should not experience giddiness, fall asleep, or become nauseous. If any of these symptoms occur while breathing nitrous oxide, immediately inform us.


What If I Don't Like The Feeling?


If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy at any time while breathing nitrous oxide, you can discontinue it at once by simply breathing deeply through your mouth. Any temporary discomfort will be eliminated with a few breaths. Please tell us if you should feel any discomfort so we can adjust the amount of gas being delivered.


What If I'm Pregnant?


Nitrous oxide is the most commonly recommended sedation technique for expectant patients. Although it does cross the placenta, it is not metabolized by the body; therefore, it has no effect on most organ systems and is removed from the body in a short period of time. If you have any further concerns about taking nitrous oxide while you are pregnant, you may wish to consult with your obstetrician prior to treatment in this office.


What Should I Do Before Taking Nitrous Oxide?


Discuss any questions or concerns about the sedation with us. Inform us of any changes in your medical history, or any medications you are presently taking. We generally recommend that you avoid eating a large meal prior to treatment and that you use the restroom before your procedure. The less you talk or breathe through your mouth during your treatment, the faster and more efficiently the gas works.


A Final Word


Nitrous oxide is a safe, reversible adjunct to help you relax during treatment. You remain conscious and "in control" throughout the procedure. Simply relax and breathe deeply through your nose. It's just that easy.|