Nitrous Sedation

Nitrous sedation is used at dental practices far and wide. Also referred to as laughing gas, nitrous sedation is often referenced as the anesthetic that sometimes causes patients to giggle. The purpose of using nitrous sedation prior to a dental procedure is to minimize the patient's discomfort while simultaneously facilitating the procedure for the dentist.

The Basics of Nitrous Sedation

There is no reason to fear nitrous sedation. This is a completely safe and highly effective form of sedation. Here's how it works: oxygen is mixed with specialized agents and the resulting “laughing gas” is inhaled by the patient by way of a small mask positioned over the nose. Once the patient is provided with nitrous sedation, it is that much easier to relax and remain completely comfortable throughout the procedure. Nitrous sedation does not induce sleep so you will be able to hear the dentist and respond to questions and requests as necessary. If you are especially fearful of dental procedures or have had a bad experience at the dentist's office in the past, nitrous sedation is perfect for you. Let the dentist apply nitrous sedation and you won't feel nearly as anxious, fearful or uncomfortable. You will feel a sense of euphoria that eliminates all potential pain from the procedure.

The Application of Nitrous Sedation

The dentist administers nitrous sedation through a mask placed over the nose. You simply breathe as you normally would, allowing the nitrous sedation to work its magic. It is perfectly normal to feel a slight tingling sensation in the legs and arms or even feel light-headed. In other cases, the patient's legs and arms feel heavy. Nitrous sedation is provided in the form of a steady stream to ensure the patient does not feel even slight pain. Once the mask is removed, the effects of nitrous sedation begin to wear off right away.

Why Nitrous Sedation is So Popular

This mild sedative has become ubiquitous at dental practices across the world for several reasons. Dentists have relied on nitrous sedation for more than a century partially because dentists can control it with ease. Your dentist will determine the perfect amount of nitrous sedation for your unique body chemistry. Furthermore, nitrous sedation does not impact heart rate. There is no threat of harming the heart, liver, kidneys, brain, lungs or any other organ. Furthermore, nitrous sedation does not yield any type of unsavory odor. Nor does nitrous oxide disturb patient breathing when used along with oxygen.

Why Some People Laugh When Nitrous Sedation is Applied

As nitrous gas is inhaled, the air within the lungs is displaced. This displacement impedes oxygen from reaching the brain and blood. In some cases, such deprivation of oxygen results in patient laughter. Though it is possible to experience mild hallucinations when nitrous sedation is applied, there is no guarantee this will occur in your situation. Furthermore, there is no reason to worry about the nitrous sedation lasting well beyond the point at which it was applied. It should take about two minutes for the nitrous sedation to wear off after the mask is removed.

Additional Short-term Side Effects from Nitrous Sedation

Though there is the possibility of side effects resulting from the inhalation of nitrous oxide, some patients do not experience any such reactions. Even if a minor complication arises, it is nothing to worry about as the dentist is in full control. Oftentimes, such side effects result from the rapid inhalation of nitrous gas or the inhalation of excess nitrous gas. Examples of such short-term side effects range from nausea to shivering, sweating, fatigue, dizziness, sound distortion and in rare cases, vomiting.

If necessary, the dentist will provide oxygen along with nitrous oxide. The dentist might also determine it is prudent to provide oxygen for a period of five minutes or so after the gas is turned off. The logic in providing such oxygen is it helps the body clear out any leftover gas that remains after the application of nitrous sedation. Once oxygen is applied, it will be that much easier to regain your alertness after the dental procedure. There is a very small chance you will have an allergic reaction to the nitrous oxide. Examples of symptoms of allergic reactions to this gas include challenges with breathing, wheezing, chills, fever and hives.

After the Appointment

Once the appointment is over, you will be able to drive home on your own. However, the dentist might request that you wait at the practice until you are completely alert. It might take upwards of 15 minutes for you to fully regain your senses and coherence.

Nitrous Sedation Preparation Tips

Now that you understand nitrous sedation is nothing to worry about, it is time to shift our attention to preparing for the upcoming dental procedure. You can do a few things to prepare your body for the application of nitrous oxide. It will certainly help to consume light meals prior to the application of the gas. Eating light meals prevents vomiting as well as nausea. Try to avoid heavy meals in the hours after you leave the dental practice as well.

Nitrous Sedation is Not for Every Patient

Though it is clear nitrous sedation is safe, it is not appropriate for every single patient. Discuss the prospect of nitrous sedation with your dentist before committing to its use during the upcoming dental procedure. Be sure to let the dentist know about the details of your medical history prior to agreeing to nitrous sedation. The dentist will evaluate your current health, your medical history and a number of other factors when gauging whether you are a good candidate for nitrous sedation. Contrary to popular belief, nitrous sedation is used for kids as well as adults. If your little one is squeamish about visiting with the dentist, particularly sensitive or problematic in other ways, nitrous sedation just might help keep him or her under control for a drama-free dental procedure.

Schedule an Appointment with Jeff Kindseth, DDS

If you need a dental procedure, treatment, cleaning or examination, we are at your service. Our team will keep you perfectly comfortable throughout the duration of your dental procedure. Reach out to us at (949) 569-5253 to find out more about our dental services and schedule an appointment.