Thinking about going to the dentist can be distressing for patients of all ages, especially if the type of treatment they require is extensive or lengthy. Some patients even avoid visiting their dentist altogether out of fear, which can have detrimental effects on their oral health and overall comfort. Dentists often recommend using nitrous oxide, which is commonly referred to as “laughing gas,” to help patients relax while undergoing a dental procedure. Nitrous oxide is an anesthetic gas that can induce feelings of euphoria and minimize pain. It was first used for dental treatment by a dentist named Horace Wells over a century ago and continues to be useful in the field today. While this approach to dental sedation can diminish the risk of pain and affects consciousness, patients remain awake throughout their procedure.


What Does Nitrous Oxide Do?

Nitrous oxide is a colorless, sweet-smelling gas that is administered through a mask and inhaled before and during a dental procedure. It is used to decrease sensitivity and alleviate anxiety to ensure that the appointment is as comfortable as possible without the side effects associated with general anesthesia, including prolonged drowsiness. The effects are almost immediate and wear off within a few minutes after the mask is removed, allowing patients to safely drive themselves home. Nitrous oxide stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can make patients feel:

  • Lightheaded
  • Tingling
  • Warm
  • Calm

Who Can Benefit From Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide is safe for both adult and children who experience difficulty at the dentist due to anxiety, dental phobias, tooth sensitivity, a strong gag reflex, or other conditions. Sedation with nitrous oxide is ideal for small children and patients with special needs, particularly if they are resistant to treatment or cannot sit still for prolonged periods. It is not designed for major surgery, but it can help make a traditional dental procedure more pleasant.

For more information about dental sedation services, please call Gum Dental at 610.746.0488 and schedule your consultation.