Nitrous Oxide SedationIt’s estimated that roughly 20 percent of Americans prolong their dental appointments until a problem is severe and painful. Worse yet, up to 8 percent of people have a crippling fear of dentistry to the point that they avoid going altogether. It’s understandable that a bad dental experience can make a person wary of future dental work. However, at our Nashville office, we want our patients to feel comfortable and relaxed at every visit.
To help quell our patients’ fears of dentistry or to simply ease their nerves during a procedure, we offer multiple forms of sedation. Nitrous oxide sedation is one such method that can provide numerous benefits pertaining to your physical and emotional well-being.
What Is Nitrous Oxide?Nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas, is a chemical compound of N2O. When inhaled, the gas has a numbing effect on the body and a mood-altering effect that allows patients to become more relaxed and, often, giddy. As a result, laughing gas can be used to help patients achieve a greater level of comfort during a dental procedure. When combined with an appropriate level of pure oxygen—usually 70 percent nitrous oxide to 30 percent oxygen— - the gas has no harmful side effects or complications.
Benefits of Nitrous OxideOf all analgesics and sedatives, nitrous oxide is one of the safest methods. Because the gas only comprises two common elements, patients cannot be allergic to it. Furthermore, since the levels can be adjusted directly and immediately, it’s easy for a dentist to administer the appropriate amount for each patient. Additional benefits include:
- No needles: Nitrous oxide is inhaled through a mask, meaning patients can enter a state of sedation without any injections.
- Full consciousness: Although patients may be more relaxed, they are still conscious and aware of their surroundings, allowing them to communicate with their dentist or nearby family member.
- Quick onset: The effects of nitrous oxide can be felt almost instantly, taking only a couple of minutes to fully develop.
- Quick recovery: Patients who take oral or IV sedatives require time to recover and regain their full mental state. With nitrous oxide, patients can return to their regular awareness within five minutes, also allowing them to drive home.
- Reduces gagging: Nitrous oxide temporarily decreases or eliminates a patient’s gag reflex, further increasing comfort throughout a procedure.
Candidates for Nitrous OxideSince most people can undergo nitrous oxidesedation dentistry with little to no medical risk, candidacy is generally determined by those who would benefit most from it. First, patients should understand that nitrous oxide alone is not as effective at numbing pain as other sedatives or anesthesia. Therefore, good candidates for laughing gas are usually those who will not be having complex oral surgery or similarly painful procedures.
Some of the best candidates for nitrous oxide are those looking to rid themselves of dental anxiety, thus allowing them to undergo treatment more easily. If you believe that light sedation may help you visit your cosmetic dentistry office more often or more easily, it is likely a good choice for you.
Additional Factors for ConsiderationAlthough nitrous oxide is largely a harmless form of sedation, a select few risk factors may reduce one’s candidacy. Speak with your dentist if you have any of the following:
- Current or past obstructive respiratory disease
- A history of drug dependency
- Bleomycin treatment for cancer
- Anything that may inhibit the ability to breathe through your nose