What is Nitrous Oxide Anesthesia?

Nitrous oxide – more commonly known as laughing gas – is an effective and safe sedative agent. It is mixed with oxygen and administered through inhalation through a small mask that fits over the nose to help patients relax during their dental procedures.Your dentist may offer nitrous oxide as an option to help relieve any high levels of stress and anxiety regarding your dental procedure.

What to Expect During Anesthesia

It is important to note that nitrous oxide does not put you to sleep. You will still be able to respond to your dentist’s requests and answer questions. Speech may not be as clear while under sedation. There is a chance you may begin to slur your speech and your responses may be delivered a bit slower than usual. In general, you feel relaxed and able to respond cooperatively. You will be aware of when you are receiving an injection, and there is a slight chance you may even feel it, but won’t care due to lack of pain sensations. Breathing and heartbeat will continue to function normally.

After your procedure, your dentist will leave only the oxygen on to flush any remaining nitrous oxide out of your system. Patients on average feel normal and alert after breathing in oxygen for a period of about five to ten.

patient getting anesthesia

Nitrous Oxide: Is It for Everyone?

People with stuffy noses or breathing issues are unable to receive nitrous oxide for dental procedures. The gas is administered to the lungs through the nasal passages, meaning these must be clear for the gas to properly take affect.  Please note, nitrous oxide not recommended for people with certain lung conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).