Dental procedures and surgeries can cause stress for some patients, even just the thought of the dentist. Some of us are just like that, we don’t really like to see needles and pins, things that make buzzing sounds, especially near to such sensitive areas as like the mouth, teeth or gums. While we understand this fear, we’re here to assure you – we’re not that bad! Luckily, we have a few ways to improve these dreaded encounters with needles. For years now, dentists and doctors of all areas have been using various sedation techniques to ease patients’ anxiety and to make procedures painless and stressless.

One of those techniques is the utilization of the well-known “laughing gas” or nitrous oxide.

You may have heard about laughing gas and we’re here to answer any of the following questions you might have about nitrous oxide. Some of the most common questions include:

  • How does nitrous oxide work?
  • What are the effects of nitrous oxide?
  • What does laughing gas feel like?
  • How long does it last?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then read on! Our team here at Doral Sedation & Family Dentistry want you to know as much as possible about what we do.

So, What is Laughing Gas?

Inhalation sedation or laughing gas has been described as “the most nearly ‘ideal’ clinical sedative circumstance”. All in all, it’s a fairly simple sedation technique, since nitrous oxide is a gas which you simply breathe in. It has no color, doesn’t irritate and has no smell.

Even though it has no extraordinary physical traits, Nitrous oxide does one thing really good – it reduces pain. And as an added bonus, it induces a pleasurable feeling. Approximately, after around 5 minutes of breathing in the gas, patients experience a euphoric feeling spreading through the body. Light-headedness and a good case of the giggles are also sometimes accompanied by the experience.

How Does it Work?

Nitrous oxide on its own can be safely used for only short periods of time because the lack of oxygen in it can lead to unconsciousness but with oxygen, it can be safely used for longer periods. This is why laughing gas is called N2O-N2 because it contains at least 30% of oxygen, however, there are variants of the mixture, like entonox (50%-50%) which are also used in medicine.

When it comes to the administration of the substance, there are four levels of sedation patients can experience.

  1. A tingling sensation in the limbs or a feeling of vibration
  2. Warm sensations
  3. A feeling of well-being and euphoria (at this stage, hearing may dissolve into a constant, electronic-like throbbing)
  4. Sleepiness, difficulty to keep eyes open or speaking (side effects such as nausea may appear after this stage – a clear sign that the gas has been administered for too long)

If you happen to experience any unpleasant symptoms, let the dentist know or simply take off the mask. Luckily, the effects wear off quickly, 3 to 5 minutes on average.

Administration

The equipment for the delivery of laughing gas is quite simple. It’s basically a supply of compressed gasses and an apparatus which delivers the sedative to the client. With a flick of a few switches, the administrator can create the ideal mix of N2O-O2 in the desired quantities. The mix then is fed through a tube with a nasal hood which is put over the patient’s nose.

In modern versions, you have a “double mask” system, where the outside mask is connected to a vacuum to suck away the waste gas – and protect your dentist from getting a good dose of the giggles while you’re sitting in the chair.

The Takeaway

By reading this blog, you can see now, that laughing gas is a safe and painless sedation technique which is widely popular around the world. If you feel like we left something out or would like to know more about our dental services, feel free to reach out to Doral Sedation & Family Dentistry.

Until then, keep smiling!