Dental Services

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous oxide, also known as "laughing gas," is commonly used to make treatment more comfortable. The nitrous oxide is inhaled through a mask and produces a state of relaxation. It doesn’t put people to sleep, or cause full sedation, so we still recommend local anesthetic in conjunction with nitrous oxide to eliminate pain. Nitrous oxide wears off within seconds of removing the mask, and has no lingering effects.

Nitrous oxide is inert, and safe for most patients, but there are a few situations in which it must not be used, including the following:

  • Pregnancy
    Nitrous oxide is safe for children, but it must not be used during pregnancy. It has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Angle-closure Glaucoma
    People with “angle-closure” or “narrow-angle” glaucoma have blocked drainage ducts in their eyes around the iris, and can build up pressure in their eyes very quickly when the iris widens. Nitrous oxide relaxes and widens the iris, and may trigger a high pressure buildup.
  • Recent Retinal Reattachment Surgery
    Often, when someone gets surgery to repair a detached retina, the ophthalmologist puts a small air bubble into the eye to keep the retina safely pressed into place. The bubble stays in place for about three months. If nitrous oxide is used during that time, it can expand that bubble, and cause blindness.

Nitrous oxide is designed to make procedures easier for nervous. We find that, for people with a fear of dentistry, it can make the first few appointments easier. After that, most people find that since we are gentle, and we take the time to explain each step along the way, we gain their trust, and they can relax without using nitrous.


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