How Nitrous Oxide Works at the Dentist's Office
Your visits to our dental office should go smoothly. Regular dental cleanings and checkups help to reduce your risk of needing more complicated procedures.
However, some people are very nervous about dental visits. In our office, nitrous oxide is one of the most common types of dental sedation we use to ease anxiety. Knowing how it works will help you make the best decision on trying it.
Benefits of Using Nitrous Oxide
Nitrous oxide is a clear gas that has no odor. We like to use it because it is generally safe enough for us to use on people of all ages. It is also one of the milder forms of a sedative that we can give you.
This means that you can usually stay awake and alert enough to communicate with us through your treatment. Being capable of talking or signaling to us with your hands increases your satisfaction with your treatment.
Patients also tend to prefer to use nitrous oxide because the effects are quickly reversed. This allows you to end your treatment without feeling groggy. In most cases, you can even drive yourself home after the procedure is done.
What to Expect During the Experience
Nitrous oxide is administered through a special type of mask that fits over your nose. Once it is in place, we will instruct you to breathe normally. Other than the scent of the mask, you should not smell the gas or experience any unpleasant sensations.
Most people begin to feel the effects of the nitrous oxide within a few minutes, and these effects should continue until the gas is turned off.
The goal with nitrous oxide is for you to feel a general sense of calm. Some patients describe physical sensations, arms and legs feeling heavy or tingly. You may also feel slightly lightheaded or even euphoric. These are all normal, and they are good signs that the treatment is working as it should.
While you may still feel some sensations of us working on your mouth, you should not feel any type of pain.
Things to Mention at Your Appointment
Although nitrous oxide works for most people, it may not be for everyone. That is why we always ask you to share your health history with us before we administer any type of medication.
Please let us know if you are pregnant or have a respiratory disorder. We also need to know if you deal with mental health issues or substance abuse. If you are not a candidate for nitrous oxide, we can offer you other forms of sedation that are also effective.
Ways to Minimize Negative Side Effects
It is rare, but some people have negative side effects from using nitrous oxide. These side effects can include sweating, dizziness or shivering. You may also feel a sense of nausea or even vomit from the nitrous oxide.
If you feel sick at any point, give us a signal such as pointing toward the mask so that we can stop the gas from flowing. We also encourage you to eat lightly before your procedure, and you may need to avoid heavy meals for at least three hours afterwards.
Nitrous oxide has been safely used for many years to provide anxiety relief that is quickly reversible. Be sure to let us know if you feel apprehensive about your dental procedures so we can help you decide if this is a good option for you.