A funny scene from a movie shows police detectives questioning a suspect while he’s at the dentist. Somehow laughing gas comes into play and everyone is laughing hysterically, and the suspect is answering every question he’s asked. But is that really how it works?
Laughing gas is scientifically known as Nitrous Oxide (N2O) and can be used as a local sedation method. It does not put you to sleep but gives you a calm and relaxed feeling, sometimes causing a euphoric feeling that may allow you to laugh more easily.
Nitrous Oxide, mixed with oxygen, is inhaled through a small mask and is colorless and odorless. It is effective because of how quickly it works to relax the patient. And because its effects are reversible, it is commonly known to be a safe sedation method, especially for young children.
Possible Side Effects
Only a minority of patients report feeling any side effects during or after its use, but those that do typically report the following:
- Headaches or light-headed
- Cold sweats
- Heavy arms and legs
Once the nitrous oxide has been turned off, a patient may receive oxygen for a few minutes to assist with purging the remaining gas from the lungs. This also helps with waking and increasing alertness.
Is Laughing Gas Right for You?
Nitrous oxide is also effective for young children who may have anxiety with a dental procedure, but some children may have issues with wearing the mask needed to take in the gas. It is always best to speak with your dentist ahead of time to determine the best plan of action regarding sedation for young children.
There are also other medical conditions or prescribed medications that may prevent you from using laughing gas. Women pregnant and in the first trimester should Schedule an appointment with your dentist office and they will help you make this determination ahead of your procedure.