Nitrous oxide is more commonly known as laughing gas, air, and nitrous.  Nitrous oxide is a gas that you breathe in prior to a treatment and is used to kill pain and induce a pleasurable feeling. After you breathe the gas in for a few minutes, you start to feel a euphoric feeling that spreads throughout your body.  Some people feel light headed with it and others get the giggles, which is why it is called laughing gas.

On its own, nitrous oxide can be used for short periods of time and is best administered as a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen because pure nitrous oxide can lead to unconsciousness.  Most dentists administer a mix that is 30 percent oxygen and 70 percent nitrous oxide. In some cases a 50/50 mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide are given this is called Entonox or gas and air.

Depending on the concentration and the length of administration, four levels of sedation can occur after an initial period of feeling lightheaded.  The first level gives off a tingling sensation, followed by a feeling of warmth that leads to a feeling of euphoria which will make you fall asleep.

It is important that you let your dentist know if you are experiencing any unwanted side effects so he can adjust the gas.

In order to breathe in the gas, the patient wears a mask that fits snug over their nose. After a few minutes of breathing in the gas, a patient will start to feel the effects.  Sometimes the nitrous is administered with an aroma to make it more pleasant.

Advantages of Nitrous Oxide:

The gas only takes 20 seconds to reach the brain and the relaxation and pain killing effects take place within 2 to 3 minutes. Patients who fear needles don’t need to worry about an injection when nitrous is used. The depth of sedation can be altered from moment to moment and the gas leaves your body in 3 to 5 minutes after it’s turned off.  Because of these factors nitrous oxide is favored not only by dentists but patients too.


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