Sedation Dentistry Information

Laughing Gas / Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide, commonly called "Laughing Gas" is one of the safest forms of sedation available to alleviate anxiety during dental procedures.

Nitrous Oxide has an interesting history. In 1844 a Boston dentist, Dr. Horace Wells, after having seen a nitrous oxide gas demonstration in a circus act, got the idea of using it to control pain during dental surgery. He asked a friend, Dr. John Rigg to remove a wisdom tooth while he, Dr. Wells, breathed nitrous oxide. The gas raised his pain threshold, and made him feel more relaxed. This was the start of the practice of using general anesthesia in the operating room, and Dr. Wells whose picture hangs at the Mass General Hospital where the first clinical surgery was performed using nitrous oxide gas is credited with being the father of general anesthesia.

Nitrous oxide is simply a gas which you breathe in through a small personal mask you wear only on your nose. Nitrous oxide is colorless and odorless and does not irritate the breathing passages. Within minutes the patient experiences a relaxed and euphoric state, hence the term “laughing gas”. The patient is back to normal soon after the mask is removed. This means you are 100% ready to independently carry on your life after the use of nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide does not affect any other part of the body but the brain and once breathing nitrous oxide ceases the patient feels normal as 100% of the gas has been exhaled. With the exception of people who have obstructive lung disease or blocked nasal passages, virtually anyone including children can be treated safely with nitrous oxide.

We can vary the depth of sedation with nitrous oxide depending on your level of anxiety. Nitrous oxide gas also tends to reduce gag reflexes and saliva flow. Most importantly, you will bask in a feeling of relaxation while breathing nitrous oxide gas as we care for you.

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