Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas)

Nitrous oxide is a sweet-smelling, non-irritating, colorless gas that you can breathe. It has been the primary means of sedation in dentistry for many years.

Nitrous oxide is safe. The patient receives 50-70% oxygen with no less than 30% nitrous oxide.

The patient is able to breathe on their own and remain in control of all bodily functions. They may experience mild amnesia and may fall asleep, not remembering all of what happened during their appointment.

There are many advantages to using 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.”
  • Inhalation sedation is safe, with no side-effects on your heart, 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 are in effect.

Reasons to not use nitrous oxide

You should not be given nitrous oxide if you’ve been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although there are no other major contraindications to using nitrous oxide, you probably should avoid it if you have emphysema, exotic chest problems, multiple sclerosis, a cold, or any difficulties with breathing.

You may want to ask your dentist for a “5-minute trial” to see how you feel with this type of sedation method before proceeding.