What to Know About Nitrous Oxide for Sedation Dentistry


Going to the dentist appointment can be pretty nerve-wracking, as most procedures may hurt. If you don’t do well with most pain levels, sedation dentistry is recommended for these patients. Being administered with some kind of anesthesia can help numb out any discomfort or put you to sleep so that the dental procedure goes without a hitch.

There are many sedation options, and it’s best to discuss them with your dental professional to be sure that you’re getting an adequate kind. Nitrous oxide is a common kind of sedative that you may want to consider asking about.

To get started, here’s what you should know about nitrous oxide for sedation dentistry:


Dubbed as laughing gas, nitrous oxide has been utilized as medicine for more than two centuries. It is a colorless and non-irritating gas safe to use during any invasive procedure. The substance provides a mild level of sedation, and it’s also used when someone needs to be calmed down. 

Nitrous oxide is typically used for dental sedation before dental procedures like fillings, crowns, and oral surgery. It is usually administered using a canister connected to a breathing tube and mask. The mask will be worn by the patient as needed to get the drowsy effect that it inflicts.


If a dental patient isn’t the biggest fan of needles, nitrous oxide for sedation dentistry may be the best option. If you’re getting a minor procedure done, it’s likely that nitrous oxide will work well to keep you calm.

Before you get the sedative, your dentist will assess your medical history, including allergies, drug and alcohol use, and current medications. If you’ve had a bad experience with sedation dentistry, consider other options that may be more appropriate.


Nitrous oxide for sedation dentistry can be a better option than other types of sedation methods. Because of its high solubility, it can be used to keep the patient relaxed and comfortable while a variety of dental procedures are being done.

Additionally, nitrous oxide is easy to use, and the gas can be diluted with medical-grade oxygen. The patient wouldn’t be laughing uncontrollably throughout the procedure; instead, they can breathe comfortably while they are being processed.

It’s also noted that nitrous oxide works by decreasing activity in the parts of the brain responsible for thought and fear. Usually, the effects of nitrous oxide last between 10 and 20 minutes, giving dental professionals enough time to do their job before the patient is out.

Risk Factors

Nitrous oxide for sedation dentistry is a safe option to go, but there are some things to keep in mind. For instance, the gas can cause mouth discoloration, increase the risk of aspiration, and create a sense of euphoria in the patient.

Nitrous oxide is only used exclusively for sedation. If dental patients are given nitrous oxide in combination with other anesthetics, there could be medical consequences that are associated with mixing these sedation methods.

Laughing gas is not suitable for pregnant women, people with breathing problems, those who are not in good health, and those who have had previous head injuries. Be sure to discuss with your dentist different sedation options to figure out what would work best for you.


Communicate with your dentist about different sedation options that you can try for your dental appointment. If you’re a patient who has found it difficult to get through dental appointments in the past, nitrous oxide can be a more effective method to consider.

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