Nitrous oxide is the scientific term for laughing gas. It’s a colorless and odorless gas used for medical and dental procedures.
Laughing gas helps patients relax and increases procedure efficiency. It's gentle and effective at managing anxiety during dental treatments. Unlike general anesthesia, it doesn’t put you to sleep. It’s a conscious type of sedation that your dentist may recommend if you have mild anxiety.
Nitrous oxide slows down the body’s reaction, which helps you feel calm.
Laughing gas is delivered to you through a mask. You breathe through it, and within a few minutes, you start to feel relaxed and even giddy or euphoric. You won’t necessarily laugh, but you'll feel more at ease.
During the procedure, you'll still hear and be able to communicate with your dentist. Once the procedure is done, your dentist turns off the nitrous oxide, and its effects immediately wear off as well.
Some patients, such as children, may need to receive oxygen to help get rid of the gas in the lungs.
Your dentist may recommend the use of laughing gas if:
Children may also receive nitrous oxide but note that it may not be the right choice for everyone. Your dentist evaluates your oral and medical history to see if you’re a good candidate for it.
It helps to talk about any concerns you have, so your dentist can identify appropriate options for your situation.
Like any other medication, nitrous oxide or laughing gas also has potential side effects. You may feel nauseous or experience headaches. But these side effects are rare and temporary.
That’s why it’s important to disclose any health conditions, such as allergies, so your dentist can take them into account when determining the right type of sedation for you. Laughing doesn't come with downtime. You’ll be able to drive home safely and perform routine activities afterward.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas” can be added onto just about any dental appointment on request. Even cleanings! The gas is delivered through a soft nosepiece and provides relaxing effects within the first few minutes. With nitrous oxide you are still completely conscious, just relaxed. Local anaesthesia will also be used (with the Wand) as needed. Once your treatment is complete, the nitrous gas is turned off and the relaxing sedative effect wears off. You will be fully recovered at this point and can drive yourself to and from the appointment.
Oral Conscious Sedation
Oral Conscious sedation is taken by mouth and makes you feel very sleepy. Although you will still be conscious, it will usually feel like you are dreaming or taking a light nap. Oral sedation lasts for several hours, and in most cases all of your treatment can be completed in one visit. By the time the sedative effects begin to wear off, your dentist is finished restoring your smile.
Nearly all healthy patients are candidates, and it works for people of all ages 11 and older (we have options for children as well). The medication has a very wide margin of safety and is administered by mouth when you arrive at the office. Local anesthetic is still required to make sure you are comfortable – it is given after you are sedated and before treatment begins. As a result of the properties of the medication used, most patients report little to no memory of the visit. You will need a ride to and from the appointment, and there are special precautions to follow before the visit.
General Anesthesia allows routine or complex dental treatment to be performed in an unconscious state. It begins with a gas that is inhaled through a mask, and then is augmented with medication delivered through an IV line. The IV can be placed after you are comfortable, so it works well for all patients. General anesthesia is the most common form of sedation used for children needing a lot of dentistry done in one visit. General anesthesia requires specialized equipment and is administered by an anesthesia specialist who will ensure a safe visit. You will need a ride to and from the appointment, and there are special precautions to follow before the visit.
The first step to deciding on having a sedation appointment is meeting with your dentist. The type of sedation that you choose together will depend on your health needs, history of dental care, and your expectations. In most cases, oral sedation provides a happy middle ground to keep patients relaxed and result in a transformational experience. It is important to review your health history with your dentist. Everything from recent hospitalizations and medications that you take should be discussed. Thankfully, sedation for dentistry is very safe - and most healthy individuals are cleared for the treatment. The first step is just to let your dentist know what your health background is, to prevent any unwanted side effects.
Don't put your dental care off another day due to fear of going to the dentist.