Most dental visits are pretty by the book. A dental hygienist will scrape plaque off of your teeth, followed by a polishing to remove any stain on the teeth. After that, a round of flossing, a peek under the tongue, and your dentist gives your teeth a thumbs up. You pocket a free toothbrush and floss, book your next appointment and mark another six months on your calendar.
But not every visit is so smooth. Some procedures require sedation techniques to be administered. You’ve certainly heard of laughing gas, but what does laughing gas do, you wonder?
Nitrous oxide (N2O), more commonly referred to as laughing gas, is used as a local sedation method, according to the California Dental Association (CDA). It is colorless and odorless. Nitrous oxide is effective as a sedative because it relaxes patients with the pleasurable feelings it emits. Nitrous oxide’s usefulness also stems from how quickly it works and that its effects are reversible. For those and other reasons, nitrous oxide is widely considered to be a safe sedation method.
The CDA reports that only a minority of patients experience any negative side effects. They can occur if the nitrous level is too high or if the amount being inhaled quickly changes. Potential side effects are as follows:
Nausea and/or vomiting
Once the nitrous oxide has been turned off, a patient needs to receive oxygen for at least five minutes to avoid a headache. The oxygen purges any remaining gas from the lungs while aiding the patient in becoming alert and awake.
Meals are another focal point when receiving nitrous oxide. It’s a good idea to eat lightly prior to your procedure and avoid a big meal for three hours afterward. Also, consult your dentist as to when it is safe for you to drive post procedure.
Not only is it safe for children, but laughing gas is a preferred sedation method for children who are nervous or anxious about a pending procedure. Discuss with your child’s dentist ahead of time to determine the appropriate sedation method. Some children may suffer from nausea or have difficulty wearing the mask needed to breathe it in.
While it’s an effective sedative that’s easy to administer, nitrous oxide might not be the right choice for you, notes the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Tell your dentist if you have any of the following conditions: first trimester of pregnancy, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency, or a cobalamin deficiency. Additionally, if you are receiving treatment using bleomycin sulfate or have a history of emotional issues or drug addiction, laughing gas may not be recommended.
Chances are, at some point, you’ll undergo a procedure that requires laughing gas. To avoid such a procedure, forming healthy dental habits is key.
Our Gables Sedation Dentistry doctors & staff consist of highly trained dental professionals that are familiar and trained to cater to the patient’s needs all under one roof. Our dentist Miami professionals DDr. R. Esparragoza, DDS and Dr. J. Fornaris, DMD along with their team aspire to provide patients with unparalleled care and comfort. We have always endeavored to acquire the best equipment with innovative technology in order to offer our patients the utmost dental care, comfort, and tranquility. Our new i-CAT 3D Imaging allows us to better target specific areas needing treatment while minimizing the radiation dose to which our patients are exposed.