Sedation Dentistry

Nitrous Oxide, also known as laughing gas or happy gas, is a colorless, non-flammable gas, which is a safe and effective sedative, used by medical professionals and dentists to help patients remain calm before a procedure and to sedate them during minor medical procedures. Nitrous Oxide is not intended to put you fully to sleep; it helps to relieve anxiety before the procedure and allows you to relax. You will be able to hear and respond to any requests or directions the dentist may have.

Your doctor will ask you for your consent to use Nitrous Oxide before the procedure. You will breathe normally through your nose and inhale it through a small mask that fits over your nose to help you relax.

Within a few short minutes you should start to feel its effects. You may feel light-headed or a tingling in your arms and legs or even feel like you’re floating. Ultimately, you should feel calm and comfortable. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off soon after the mask is removed.

Laughing gas can be administered to children in a nasal hood, which covers their nose but not their mouth. Sometimes, a familiar scent is added to ease the adjustment to wearing the mask.

Effects Of Nitrous Oxide

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Nitrous Oxide affects everyone differently, based on:

  • The amount taken.
  • The user’s size, weight and health.
  • Whether the person is used to taking it.
  • If other drugs are taken around the same time.

The following effects may be felt almost immediately and can last for a few minutes: 

  • Euphoria.
  • Numbness of the body.
  • Sedation.
  • Giddiness.
  • Uncontrolled laughter.
  • Uncoordinated movements.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Confusion.
  • Dizziness and/or light-headedness.
  • Sweating.
  • Feeling unusually tired or weak.
  • Sudden death.

Mixing Nitrous Oxide and alcohol can cause:

  • Confusion.
  • Feeling heavy or sluggish.
  • Reduced concentration.
  • Loss of body control.

Nitrous Oxide is a depressant, so it slows your body down. Once it takes effect, you may feel:

  • Happy
  • Giggly
  • Light-headed
  • Mild euphoria
  • Relaxed

Due to these effects, Nitrous Oxide is known as a laughing gas. Some people may also experience mild hallucinations while under the use of laughing gas.

Your arms and legs may feel heavy, and you may also experience a tingling sensation in your limbs.

Once your procedure is completed, your doctor will remove your nitrous oxide mask. Its effects wear off after a few minutes. In some cases, children can receive 100% oxygen after their nitrous oxide masks are removed. This helps them recover completely within minutes after receiving oxygen.

Possible Side Effects of Laughing Gas

The use of Nitrous Oxide is completely safe when done under the guidance of a doctor. In some cases, however, side effects may occur during or after use.

A common side effect of laughing gas is nausea and headaches. Occasionally, children might vomit or feel agitated after the laughing gas is removed. About 5% of patients experience these effects.

Nitrous Oxide does not have any long-term side effects when used occasionally. Your doctor may recommend you take B12 supplements if you have to undergo a number of frequent procedures involving laughing gas. This helps prevent anemia.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)