MOST OF US HAVE at least heard of laughing gas, the whimsically-nicknamed sedation method used by dentists, even if we haven’t had it ourselves. Nitrous oxide or nitrous is the clinical term for laughing gas. Our South San Francisco dentists are experts in the safe and effective use of nitrous oxide. But what exactly is laughing gas, is it safe and how can it help your dental anxiety float away?
Nitrous Oxide From Discovery To Dentistry
Laughing gas is a colorless, odorless gas. It consists of two nitrogen atoms and one oxygen atom bonded together. The way it works is not entirely clear, but studies do indicate that it reduces a patient’s perception of pain and increases the release of dopamine.
In 1772, Joseph Priestly first isolated the compound nitrous oxide. It wasn’t until 1799 that Humphry Davy discovered the relaxing, euphoria-inducing effects that earned it the name laughing gas. Several decades later, in the 1860s in Germany, nitrous oxide found its place in dentistry, and we still use it today.
Is Laughing Gas Safe?
The nitrous oxide used in a medical setting is very safe, because exposure is carefully controlled. The masks dentists use to administer the gas first delivers pure oxygen, followed by a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide. The limited exposure produces temporary effects that reduce pain and help the patient relax during a procedure.
For kids, laughing gas is the preferred form of sedation to make the most challenging treatment go smoothly. Schedule with our in-house pedodontist, Dr. Erin Shah, our pediatric dentist ahead of time to determine the appropriate sedation method.
Laughing Gas vs Dental Anxiety
For patients, adults and children, who suffer from dental anxiety, laughing gas can be especially helpful. Foregoing dental treatment because of anxiety and fear will only give the problem time to become worse. Laughing gas is one option to help anxious patients relax and feel comfortable during a dental procedure, or even during a routine dental appointment.
Still Have Questions About Laughing Gas? Just Ask!
If you’d like to know more about how laughing gas can make your and your kid's appointments a bit easier, contact us today. Nitrous oxide is also just one of the many sedation options we provide. You can learn more about all of the sedation options available to you. Give us a call or schedule an appointment so that we can discuss this and any other dental health concerns you may have.