Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, offers one useful part or piece of sedation dentistry here at Parkcrest Dental Group. Laughing gas is one of many options we provide here, along with other sedation choices.
We use laughing gas to help our patients relax during lengthy procedures that may be stressful, such as root canals, extractions, and fillings. Today’s blog from Parkcrest Dental answers, “How does laughing gas work?”
Related Post: What You Should Know About Dental Sedation
Nitrous Oxide Mixture
Nitrous oxide, chemically known as N2O, is similar in composition to water in that two nitrogen atoms bond to an oxygen atom. Dentists use a combination of nitrous oxide and pure oxygen to create the correct calming effect. The mixture of the two gases may vary, depending on how strong the sedation effect needs to be.
How Nitrous Oxide Works
Nitrous oxide works by blocking chemical substances in your body called neurotransmitters. Proteins in individual cells transmit certain substances through your body very quickly. For example, neurotransmitters react to pain if you touch a very hot surface and you reflexively pull your hand away from the burning feeling. Laughing gas inhibits certain neurotransmitters while releasing others.
Once you start breathing in nitrous oxide, it takes about 20 seconds to reach the brain. About two to three minutes later, laughing gas begins to block pain receptors in your nervous system.
How We Administer Laughing Gas
Laughing gas works through a plastic hood that fits over your nose. The piece has tubes on either side of it. You remain awake during the entire procedure with nitrous oxide. You breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Effects of Laughing Gas
Nitrous oxide has three main effects on your body.
- Blocks neurotransmitters that cause fear and anxiety
- Releases norepinephrine, a substance that inhibits pain signaling
- Increases levels of dopamine, which causes a feeling of euphoria (hence the name laughing gas).
Most people report feelings of lightheadedness, tingling the arms and legs, warmth, sleepiness, and euphoria. You’ll still be able to respond to the dentist’s instructions with this kind of sedation dentistry, and you’ll remain conscious the entire time.
These effects are only temporary. Once the procedure is over, dentists turn off the nitrous oxide and increase the pure oxygen you receive through the nose piece. The effects of laughing gas wear off shortly afterward, and you can return to normal, daily activities without a problem.
Related Post: Sedation Dentistry Explained: Methods
Sedation Dentistry at Parkcrest Dental
We want you to be comfortable and relaxed when you come into our office for a dental appointment. We may recommend nitrous oxide for some procedures. Sedation dentistry is a bit more complicated, which means dentists must have a license to perform it. We’re licensed by the Missouri Dental Board, which means our team is qualified to handle every aspect of sedation dentistry at our office. Contact Parkcrest Dental Group or call (417) 887-1220 for more information.