Most dental visits are routine. A dental hygienist removes the plaque from your teeth. Your teeth are polished to remove any stains and flossed. Your dentist looks at your teeth and the interior of your mouth and makes any needed treatment recommendations. You get a free toothbrush and floss, schedule your next appointment, and you’re good for another six months. However, some Hendricks County dental visits require treatments that may need the use of nitrous oxide sedation – also known as laughing gas. While you may have heard about laughing gas, you may wonder what it is exactly and – more importantly – about its safety.

What Is Nitrous Oxide and How Does It Work?

Nitrous oxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is mixed with oxygen. You inhale it through a small mask that fits over your nose. At Danville Family Dentistry, Dr. Jon Erickson will control the amount of nitrous oxide you inhale. Within a few minutes of breathing in the gas, you should begin to feel its effects. You may feel light-headed. You may also feel tingling in your arms or legs, or they may feel heavy.
Laughing gas helps you to relax and feel comfortable. It also helps you cope with any fear or anxiety during your dental procedure. Known as “conscious sedation,” this gas shouldn’t put you to sleep. You’ll be able to hear and respond to any questions or directions Dr. Erickson may have. However, you may slur your words when talking.
Once the nitrous oxide is turned off, its effects will wear off quickly. You’ll continue to receive oxygen for about 5 minutes to help you avoid a headache. Plus, the oxygen helps to remove any remaining gas from your lungs. The oxygen also helps you become more alert and awake. However, you may not remember much of your dental procedure.

Is Nitrous Oxide Safe?

Nitrous oxide is a safe, effective sedation method since you’re breathing a high level of oxygen throughout your treatment. Both adults and children can receive nitrous oxide if they have no difficulty wearing a mask. However, nitrous oxide may not be suitable for everyone, such as women in their first trimester of pregnancy, or people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a vitamin B12 deficiency, or certain enzyme deficiencies. Dr. Erickson will evaluate whether nitrous oxide is right for you.
Additionally, a few Hendricks County patients may experience some negative side effects such as headaches, shivering, excessive sweating, fatigue, nausea, and/or vomiting. These side effects can occur if the nitrous oxide level is too high, or if the amount you breathe in changes too quickly.
Furthermore, prior to receiving nitrous oxide, you should avoid eating a large meal during the 2 to 3 hours before your treatment. And, you shouldn’t eat a big meal within 3 hours afterward. This will reduce your risk of nausea and/or vomiting.

Is Nitrous Oxide Sedation Right for Your Dental Treatment?

For most Hendricks County patients, you shouldn’t have any problems with the use of nitrous oxide sedation. However, make sure you discuss your medical history with Dr. Erickson, so he can determine if it’s a good option for you. Also, if you have any concerns about receiving laughing gas, discuss them with him as well.
One of the best ways to avoid having a dental procedure that requires nitrous oxide is to practice good oral health habits. Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day to prevent plaque and tartar build up. Also, floss your teeth daily. Additionally, visit Danville Family Dentistry twice a year for regular checkups and teeth cleanings. Contact our office today to schedule your next exam. And – maybe – you won’t ever have to experience laughing gas first-hand.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.