If you’re getting a dental procedure soon, you may hear about laughing gas (also known as nitrous oxide). Laughing gas is a common anesthetic, administered as a colorless, nonflammable, sweet-smelling gas. While the sedative won’t put you to sleep, it will make the procedure more comfortable for you. To make sure you’re prepared for your procedure, just check out these five interesting facts about laughing gas that every patient should know!
Nitrous oxide has been around for decades.
Nitrous oxide was first discovered by an English scientist named Joseph Priestly in 1793, though it wasn’t acknowledged for its medical potential until 1844. In the 1960s, it became a mainstay of dental anesthesia, and has been commonly used ever since!
Laughing gas is completely safe when administered by a professional.
There’s a reason why nitrous oxide has been a popular anesthetic for so long. Inhalation of the gas is perfectly safe and has no impact on the brain, lungs, kidneys, heart, or liver. The gas does cause disorienting effects, so tripping and falling is possible if you get up too quickly (though its effects only last a few minutes after the mask has been removed).
Laughing gas is easily administered.
If you’re afraid of needles, you’re in luck! Nitrous oxide does not require an injection for administration. Instead, laughing gas is diffused through a mask, where the anesthetic is absorbed through the lungs. By simply breathing normally through the mask, the sedative effects kick in within just a few minutes. Then, your dentist can easily adjust the depth of your sedation if it is too much or too little, but either way you won’t be put completely to sleep. Once the procedure is over, your dentist only needs to remove the mask for the anesthetic to wear off.
Dentists use laughing gas for a number of reasons.
Nitrous oxide can be advantageous in many circumstances. For starters, this anesthetic is great for use with pediatric patients, as this enables them to relax and more easily cooperate. Similarly, it works well for patients with mental or physical disabilities, or for those with a lower pain tolerance, as it can reduce the pain and stress of certain dental procedures.
You can expect a light tingling sensation—but no hangover effects!
After about 2-3 minutes, you can expect the nitrous oxide to take full effect. You’ll feel a slight tingling sensation and general numbness throughout the body. Laughing gas essentially puts you in a dreamlike state, but you’ll still be able to answer questions and communicate with your dentist if need be. Once the procedure is complete, the gas exits your body as you breathe (completing the process in about 3-5 minutes). There are no hangover effects to this anesthetic, so you’ll be able to drive home after the procedure!
Ready to schedule your next dental procedure? Call Carillon Family Dental in Romeoville to schedule your next appointment!