Laughing gas, a part of sedation dentistry, is a mild sedative that some dentists provide to their patients. Sedation dentistry is an umbrella term that includes the use of sedatives to better facilitate oral procedures and reduce dental anxiety.
A child’s early years are crucial for forming good impressions. If they are afraid of the dentist, they will not feel motivated to practice good oral hygiene and/or not go to a dentist regularly for preventative care, which can have a devastating impact later in their life. However, laughing gas can help to alleviate dental anxiety. Here at Gentle Dentistry, laughing gas is available for patients of all ages.
What is Laughing Gas?
Laughing gas is a chemical compound of nitrogen and oxygen that a patient will breathe in from a mask completely surrounding it. The gas should start to take effect just a couple of minutes after you begin breathing it in. It earned the name “laughing gas” because it makes people feel euphoric and happy.
As a mild sedative, nitrous oxide will not make you go unconscious, so you will still be awake and aware of your surroundings. While you will feel more relaxed and comfortable, it will not completely block out sensation in the mouth or pain so we will still apply a local anesthetic before the procedure begins.
While breathing laughing gas in, you may feel light-headed or like your limbs are heavy. This is normal and the sensations should disappear after we remove the mask. Besides the few aforementioned ones, most people do not experience while on laughing gas or afterward.
The main purpose of laughing gas is to reduce , and it accomplishes this in a couple of different ways. When you continue to breathe laughing gas in, it triggers the release of dopamine, a chemical that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and euphoria. It also reduces your ability to feel anxious. The gas is a vasodialator that aids in reducing blood pressure.
Laughing gas is also quick to take effect, so there is no major delay for you to feel it working. Once the mask is removed the effects wear off quickly.
This means you can return to school or work right after the procedure. Laughing gas does not impede your ability to drive so you will not need anyone to pick you up after your appointment.
Laughing gas is known to be a safe option to relieve dental anxiety. The contraindications for use are during pregnancy or certain respiratory conditions. Please let our dentist know if any of these apply to you.
Alternative Sedation Options
If you are still unsure about laughing gas, we encourage you to talk with our dentist so you can get the answers to any questions you may still have and see what is best for you to feel the most comfortable during your appointment. Besides laughing gas, the other three types of sedation dentistry are intravenous, general anesthesia, and oral sedation.
Alternative options to help you relax during a dental appointment that are not sedatives include: using headphones, earplugs, or blankets. You can also ask about a visit from our therapy dog, Clark, a pug who joined the Gentle Dentistry team.
If you think laughing gas would help reduce or eliminate your dental anxiety, then please call Gentle Dentistry at (269) 381-3890 to schedule an appointment in Kalamazoo, MI.