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Sedation Dentistry - Laughing GasWhat is laughing gas?

Inhalation sedation is a type of light sedation using a controlled dosage of Nitrous oxide (N2O) and Oxygen (O2) mix. Nitrous oxide (N2O) and oxygen (O2) are simply gases that you can breathe in. They have no color, smell, and don’t irritate.

Nitrous oxide kills pain and induces a pleasurable feeling. After approximately 5 minutes breathing in the gas, the patient typically experiences a euphoric feeling that spreads throughout the body. Some people find that there are auditory or visual effects as well. You will feel a bit light headed and often people get “the giggles.” Hence the commonly known name of “laughing gas,” sounds like fun!

Click on frequently asked questions below to learn more
What are the advantages of nitrous oxide?

  • Nitrous oxide works very rapidly – it reaches the brain within 20 seconds. The relaxation and pain-killing properties develop after 2 or 3 minutes.
  • The depth of sedation can be altered from moment to moment, allowing Dr. Huang to increase or decrease the depth of sedation.
  • Nitrous oxide can be given for the exact time span it is needed and no more. It can be switched off when not needed and then switched on again.
  • There’s no “hangover” effect – the gas is eliminated from the body within 3 to 5 minutes after the gas supply is stopped. Patients can safely drive home and don’t need an escort.
  • With nitrous oxide, it’s easy to give incremental doses until the desired action is obtained. So Dr. Huang has virtually absolute control over the action of the drug, preventing the possibility of accidental overdoses.
  • For certain procedures – those involving gums rather than teeth (e. g. deep cleaning) – it may be possible to use nitrous instead of local anesthesia. N2O acts as a painkiller on soft tissues such as gums. However, its pain-relieving effects vary from person to person and can’t be relied upon.
  • No injection is required. In case of slight needle phobia, nitrous oxide may help overcome that fear temporarily.
  • Inhalation sedation is very safe. It has very few side effects and the drugs used have no ill effects on the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain.
  • Inhalation sedation has been found to be very effective in eliminating or at least minimizing severe gagging.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • Some people are not comfortable with the effects of laughing gas. Some are afraid that they might lose control. Others may feel nauseous. If you’re prone to nausea, it’s a good idea to have a light meal about 4 hours before your appointment. If that’s not possible, make sure your stomach isn’t completely empty, but don’t indulge in a large meal beforehand either.
  • Some people will not achieve adequate sedation with permissible levels of oxygen.
  • If you can’t breathe through your nose either because you’re a pure mouth breather or your nose is blocked, or you feel too claustrophobic when something is put over your nose, it is not an appropriate option.

What about bad experiences with laughing gas?
On rare occasions, people have reported a bad experience with nitrous oxide. Usually this is due to over-sedation. This is easily reversible by reducing the amount of N2O. For example, a few people have reported auditory and “physical” hallucinations, dizziness, or vertigo.

Don’t panic if you should experience this. Let Dr. Huang know about any unpleasant sensations or symptoms so that he can adjust the percentage of N2O. Laughing, becoming giddy, crying, or uncoordinated movements are other signs that the NO2 concentration is too high.

How safe is laughing gas?
Laughing gas does not cause allergic reactions.

It’s also safe to use if you suffer from epilepsy, liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, or cerebral-vascular disease. It is also used quite successfully in many people with respiratory disease, but it depends on the exact nature of the disease.

It is best to always check with Dr. Huang.

Are there any precautions that I should be aware of?
There are not any major factors that would prohibit a patient from receiving nitrous except for patients with multiple sclerosis, emphysema, and some exotic chest problems.

It hasn’t been proven to be safe during the first trimester of pregnancy, so we don’t recommend the usage.