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Published: May 31, 2017

What is Nitrous Oxide?

What is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous Oxide (O) is a chemical that is commonly used in dentistry to create a feeling of relaxation. Nitrous oxide is commonly referred to as laughing gas. It was discovered in 1772 by Joseph Priestly and occurs naturally in soil and the ocean. It was originally used by wealthy people as a “recreational” substance that was inhaled.

Horace Wells introduced nitrous oxide to the world of dentistry in 1846. He began to demonstrate that it could be used relieve some pain and anxiety associated with dental procedures. Much progress has been made since 1846 and the use of nitrous oxide is common place in routine dental care and is a popular option amongst patients.

Many studies have been completed and published by the American Dental Association and other prominent dental journals proving that nitrous oxide use is safe for use in adults and children. Nitrous oxide is always administered with oxygen and is inhaled through the nose by a small mask that fits over the nose.  One of the biggest advantages to using nitrous oxide to relax during dental care is that the effects of nitrous go away immediately or within minutes of turning it off. There is no need to have a driver or someone to assist you following the appointment as is the case with oral conscious sedation. (If you’re curious about oral conscious sedation please see our blog about oral conscious sedation for more information: https://mygreenwooddentist.com/oral-conscious-sedation/)

How will nitrous oxide make you feel? It often creates feelings of relaxation, dissociation (not caring), and giddiness (hence the name laughing gas). Side effects of nitrous oxide are few and far between and are often mild. The most common side effect is nausea. It is often recommended that if a patient is planning to use nitrous oxide that they not eat for 1-2 hours prior to their dental appointment.

Nitrous oxide is a great option to help patients relax for their dental care. Please ask us about it for your next appointment. If you have any questions please give our office a call at 317-535-7141. Thanks for reading, have a great day!

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