Laughing gas has changed how patients experience their dental visits. All it takes is several inhalations of the gas and your fears disappear. So what is laughing gas, and why is it such a central component of a dentist’s arsenal?
Laughing Gas at The Dentist: What Is It?
Sometimes called happy gas, laughing gas is essentially nitrous oxide (n2o) used as a sedative to relax patients during dental procedures. The odorless, colorless gas is mixed with oxygen and administered through a small mask over the nose. However, dentists may use nasal hoods for younger children and patients who find masks uncomfortable.
How Does Laughing Gas Work?
Rather than causing uncontrollable fits of laughter, laughing gas at the dentist slows down the nervous system, inducing relaxation and euphoria to put patients at ease. However, it’s not uncommon to feel heavy-limbed, light-headed, tingly, or even slightly giggly. Note that sedation doesn’t put patients to sleep—they can still hear and respond to the dentist.
Laughing gas at the dentist is ideal for individuals with high anxiety and low pain tolerance. And although it eliminates the need for intravenous or oral sedatives, dentists may use local anesthesia if the pain intensifies. The good news is that laughing gas doesn’t take too long to wear off once the patient removes the mask and inhales pure oxygen.
Laughing Gas Benefits
Laughing gas at the dentist is preferred for several reasons.
- Reduced gag reflex
- Less anxiety in the dental chair
- Pain management
- Fewer side effects
- Faster recovery
- Cooperative and relaxed patients
- Better communication with patients
- Controlled administration
- Minimizes the need for sedatives
- Lower risk of complications
Laughing Gas Safety
Although nitrous oxide has been an effective sedative since the 1840s, only trained professionals should administer it for dosage control and patient safety. Though rare, some people experience headaches, vomiting, shivering, drowsiness, and nausea. However, the dentist can control these side effects through monitoring and proper administration.
Additionally, eating light before your appointment can help with vomiting. Dentists also advise against heavy meals for a few hours after the procedure. Remember, dentists must seek your consent before using laughing gas. They should also explain how the gas works and the possible complications.
Special Considerations in the Use of Laughing Gas
While laughing gas is safe even for children, it’s not suitable for everyone. During consultation, the dentist may ask about specific medications or allergies. Moreover, the gas isn’t ideal for:
- Patients in their first trimester of pregnancy
- Those with respiratory illnesses
- Patients with vitamin B12 deficiency
- Those with mental illnesses and substance abuse issues
Dental appointments shouldn’t cause panic. Contact LeCroy Dental today for safe, pain-free procedures.