Need to Take the Edge off at Your Next Dental Procedure? Ask About Nitrous Oxide

Feb 3, 2015 | Dental Information, Oral Health Care

Chances are, if you’ve heard anybody talk about their experience with nitrous oxide in their dentist’s office, they’ve said they had a good experience. Safe for kids and adults, it’s a good option for those who experience apprehension when you visit the dentist. However, before you ask for nitrous oxide (N2O for short) you should review some facts about it to get a better understanding.

Nitrous oxide is one of the safest forms of sedation that your dentist offers. It’s non-allergenic and non-irritating – and takes effect within about five minutes. N2O affects the central nervous system, and the vast majority of those who have used it report no side effects at all. Once your appointment is over, the effects of the gas are reversed in about three-to-five minutes with normal breathing. There are no driving restrictions and no work restrictions after inhaling nitrous oxide.

Benefits of Nitrous Oxide During Dental Appointments

Yes, nitrous oxide helps you relax and reduces anxiety during dental procedures, but it has many more benefits, including:

  • You’ll stay alert and aware during your procedure, allowing you to give feedback and listen to any instructions given by your dentist
  • Changing the degree of sedation as required is easy
  • Saliva production and gag reflexes are decreased while you’re taking nitrous oxide
  • N2O can lower the anxiety felt with injections of local anaesthetic- You’ll stay relaxed, which is as important for your dentist as it is for you

Is Nitrous Oxide for Every Dental Patient?

Because of its low-incident rate for side-effects, N2O2 can be administered to just about anyone. However, those who suffer from asthma or some particular lung disorders may choose to not use it. Your best bet, as usual, is to consult with your dentist so they can get a clear understanding of your medical history and your current state of health in order to make the best decision.

To administer nitrous oxide, a rubber breathing hood is placed over your nose. A regulator feeds the correct amount of nitrogen and oxygen to the hood as you breathe in and out as normal. As your procedure nears completion, your oxygen intake will be increased and your nitrogen will be decreased to the point where you are receiving 100% oxygen. By then time you are done with your procedure, you should feel as you normally do.

What Does it Feel Like to Have N2O2 Administered?

Every patient responds to nitrous oxide in a slightly different way. However, once fully administered in the right ratio, people typically experience the following:

  • Temporary tingling or numbness in the extremities (hands and feet)
  • Temporary numbness in the legs
  • Ringing sensation in the ears or changes in hearing
  • Euphoric feelings
  • “Floating” sensations in the extremities
  • Feelings of heaviness in the hands and/or feet

Despite what you may have seen on TV and in the movies, you should not feel giddiness while taking nitrous oxide. Also, if you feel nauseous, you should say something to your dentist right away.

Some Things to Keep in Mind During the N2O2 Experience

If you feel any discomfort or uneasy at any time while breathing N2O2, let us know. We’ll likely advise you to take a few deep breaths through your mouth to lower the concentration in your system and relieve any discomfort.

If you’re pregnant, there’s good news – nitrous oxide is among the most commonly administered (and recommended) sedations for pregnant dental patients. N2O2 is not metabolized by the body and therefore has no effect on the majority of organ systems and leaves the body quickly. You may wish to consult your obstetrician to get further details and, of course, let your dentist know if you are pregnant (or suspect you may be) prior to any procedure.

Nitrous oxide is the safe and totally reversible way to help patients relax during dental procedures. You’ll stay completely alert and in control the entire time. All you need to do is breathe through your nose and let us take care of the dental work. As always, if you have questions or concerns, let us know. We’re here to help you understand every aspect of your dental health – including nitrous oxide.