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Nitrous Oxide

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Nitrous Oxide, commonly referred to as “laughing gas”, is a sweet-smelling, non-irritating, colorless gas, administered to the patient (by breathing it) by the dentist under controlled conditions that allows the patient to relax and feel comfortable during dental procedures. It is often used with patients who are especially anxious during dental treatment. Nitrous Oxide has been a well-established, safe means of sedation in dentistry for many years. The patient is given an appropriate mixture of Oxygen and Nitrous Oxide with a minimum of 30% Oxygen. Patients are able to breathe on their own and remain conscious.  After treatment, the patient breathes 100% Oxygen to allow the Nitrous Oxide to leave the system and the patient can safely leave the office and even drive without accompaniment. However, there are certain circumstances in which Nitrous Oxide should not be used—e.g., pregnant women or patients who have difficulty breathing. As with all dental treatments, the patient’s health history and other relevant circumstances must be disclosed and discussed with the dentist. Some of the more significant advantages of using Nitrous Oxide are:

  • The depth of sedation can be altered at any time to increase or decrease it
  • No after- effect of the feeling of “hangover”
  • No adverse effects on internal organs such as the heart or lungs
  • Minimizes the gagging reflex
  • Works rapidly—usually works in as little as two to three minutes to relax the patient and control pain