Visiting the dentist may sound so easy. But some people are really scared of undergoing dental procedures. It is the reason why there are relaxation methods that are being used by dentists to relieve anxiety during dental appointments.
One of the most common relaxation techniques is the inhalation sedation. It is also called nitrous oxide sedation. Nitrous oxide or laughing gas is used to relax the patient. It has been used for around 160 years in the field of dentistry. Around 33% of dentists in the United States use nitrous oxide sedation to address dental phobia.
What is Nitrous Oxide?
Nitrous oxide is a non-flammable and colorless gas. It has a slightly sweet taste and odor. It has anxiolytic and sedative properties, which make it suitable in dentistry procedures. It can take effect at a very rapid rate or around 3 minutes upon inhalation.
It acts by suppressing pain signals to the patient’s brain, which makes the procedure painless. It also gives the patient a euphoric feeling or the slight urge to laugh. That is why it is called laughing gas.
What is Nitrous Oxide Sedation?
Nitrous oxide sedation or inhalation analgesia is considered the mildest method of sedation. It can provide a painless experience in most dental procedures.
In this method, the patient will be wearing a mask, and breathe in a combination of nitrous oxide (up to 70%) and oxygen (not less than 30%). This will make the patient feel relaxed, and the procedure will be painless. The patient remains conscious and awake during the procedure.
The patient can breathe normally, and respond to physical and verbal commands. It is recommended for light dental procedures, and for people with mild anxiety.
Most people can undergo nitrous oxide sedation. It is recommended for adults with mild anxiety, and children who are afraid of dentists and non-cooperative. It can also be used for patients with special needs. It is also advisable for people who do not like anesthesia. It can also be used for people who have a problematic gag reflex.
Advantages of Nitrous Oxide Sedation
It has become popular because it is very effective for pain management and anxiety control. It is fast-acting; and it is easy to regulate the level of sedation. The patient can easily recover after the sedation. It is more affordable compared to other sedation methods.
Contraindications of Nitrous Oxide Sedation
It can be used for most patients aside from those who have lung and breathing conditions. It is also not recommended for drug abusers, pregnant women (in early pregnancy), and those who recently had ear or eye surgery.
Side effects of Nitrous Oxide Sedation
Nitrous oxide sedation has very little side effects. Nausea is the most common effect of this method. But it can be managed by lowering the level of sedative gas.
Though it is considered safe, there are certain risks including hypoxia. It happens when the gas mixture is not properly administered.
In conclusion, nitrous oxide sedation is an affordable and effective relaxation method for people who have dental phobia and anxiety. It is also an effective alternative to anesthesia for pain management. However, some patients with certain conditions should refrain from using this method.