Nitrous Oxide- “Laughing Gas”

Nitrous oxide is a sweet-smelling, non-irritating, colorless gas which you can breathe.

Nitrous oxide has been the primary means of sedation in dentistry for many years. “Laughing gas” is safe, because patient receives combination of 50-70% oxygen and maximum of 30-40% nitrous oxide (depends on age and weight). Highly recommended in fearful/phobic and nervous/anxious patients, same as asthmatic patients, because relax airways and overall relax and calm the patient. Widely used in dentistry, especially pediatric.

The patient is able to breathe on their own and remain in control of all bodily functions.

The patient may experience mild amnesia and may fall asleep, not remembering all of what happened during their appointment.

advantages of Nitrous Oxide:

  • The depth of sedation can be altered at any time to increase or decrease sedation.
  • There is no after effect such as a “hangover”.  It is “washed out” very quickly, simply breathing only oxygen in the end of the procedure.
  • Inhalation sedation is safe with no side effects on your heart and lungs, etc.
  • Inhalation sedation is very effective in minimizing gagging.
  • It works rapidly as it reaches the brain within 20 seconds. In as little as 2-3 minutes its relaxation and pain killing properties develop.

Reasons to NOT use Nitrous Oxide

Relative contraindications to N2O:

1. Pulmonary disease — COPD

2. Respiratory infections, both acute and chronic

3. Pregnancy

4. Psychiatric patients

5. Immune compromised patient

6. Multiple sclerosis

7. Patient using marijuana or hallucinogenic drugs

8. Blocked middle ear

9. Very apprehensive patient

10. Repeated exposures less than one week apart

Absolute contraindications to N2O

1. Nasal obstruction

2. Completely uncommunicative; either disability or language barrier

3. Increased intracranial pressure

4. Alcoholic or recovered alcoholic

You may want to ask your dentist for a “five-minute trial” to see how you feel with this type of sedation method before proceeding.