Nitrous oxide is one of a few different ways to provide relaxation to patients undergoing dental treatment. This conscious sedation method has been used safely for hundreds of years. Nitrous oxide is a sweet-smelling, colorless gas which is mixed with oxygen and applied through a facemask for patients to breathe in. Its dosage is monitored by the dentist and its effects are easily reversed. The patient remains in full control of his/her body movements and can communicate with the dentist and dental team during a dental procedure. The patient’s airway is not compromised and the patient can breathe naturally and normally on their own.
Nitrous Oxide Has Many Advantages
- The depth of sedation can be monitored and easily altered by the dental team.
- There are no known side effects, no morning after hangover to deal with.
- There are no long-term effects whatsoever and no side effects to body organs such as heart or lungs.
- Nitrous oxide helps to minimize the gag reflex and allow the dentist to finish procedures in less time.
- Nitrous oxide works rapidly. The onset of relaxation effect is approximately 3 minutes.
Contraindications to Nitrous Oxide Usage
Patients generally should not utilize nitrous oxide in dental procedures if they have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Patients may not want to consider employing nitrous oxide before a dental procedure if they suffer from emphysema, multiple sclerosis, a common cold, or other difficulties breathing. Some dental health care providers may consider offering patients who have never utilized nitrous oxide a short trial period to see if the effects of nitrous oxide would be beneficial to their mental state and contribute to their relaxation before a dental procedure is begun.