Here at Fusion Dental Care, we take great pride in being able to provide our patients in Raleigh, NC with a true anxiety free dental experience. One of the ways we do that is by offering laughing gas for sedation dentistry.
Inhalation sedation using nitrous oxide and oxygen (N20-02), more commonly known as ‘laughing gas,’ is the most frequently used technique within the world of sedation dentistry. The estimated amount of dentists in the U.S. who use this technique for pain and anxiety relief is 35%.
Laughing gas is used to help a patient suffering from dental anxiety so that they feel more comfortable, this, in turn, allows the sedation dentist to carry out an effective treatment. If you want to find out whether this pain-free procedure could be suitable for you, all you need to do is ask your dentist.
The patient’s nose will be comfortably covered with a small scented rubber inhaler. The patient will then breathe in 100% oxygen.
For some patients who experience laughing gas for the first time, they may feel that they are not taking in sufficient air. If this is the case, they should advise the sedation dentist who will then ensure that more oxygen is supplied to the patient.
The dentist will start to introduce nitrous oxide when it is clear that the patient is comfortable breathing in the oxygen. The amount of nitrous oxide will be increased after several minutes, the patient will then be asked, “What are you feeling?”
For most patients who receive laughing gas the first sign or symptom they experience is lightheadedness, followed by a feeling of all-over warmth, which is an ideal feeling if this is an emergency dental care situation. A significant number of people also mention a “vibrating” or “humming” sensation which is comfortable. Feeling that the hands or fingertips are becoming “numb” is also common.
A similar sensation may also be noticed in the mouth – an advantage to both the sedation dentist and the patient during the treatment process. For some patients, a feeling that their legs and arms are “very light” is experienced. However, other patients note that their legs and arms felt very heavy to the extent that they felt they could not lift them up.
Both of these sensations are completely normal. The patient may also feel perspiration to some extent as well. It is quite normal for oxygen and nitrous oxide dentistry to have such an effect on the patient.
Throughout the procedure, the sedation dentist will speak with the patient who will be able to reply with ease. This factor is both a significant advantage and an important safety element of using laughing gas for conscious sedation.
If the patient starts to feel uncomfortable during the process, or if they feel that they are receiving too much nitrous oxide they should immediately inform the dentist who will be able to adjust the gas flow within a few seconds so that the patient feels comfortable again.
Once the sedation dentist treatment is over the patient will again receive 100% oxygen (for at least three to five minutes). Once this time has elapsed, the person should feel completely normal. If they have any sensation of still being sedated the dentist should continue the oxygen flow for another few minutes.
The majority of dentists in Raleigh will allow the patient, who has now fully recovered from the laughing gas, to leave without an escort and to resume their daily activities. In the event that a patient is slower to recover, they may need a friend or relative to drive them back to their home.
For mild to moderate levels of dental anxiety, laughing gas is a very effective treatment. This technique also works well for people who have a tendency to gag excessively; for most patients, laughing gas gets rid of gagging altogether, or at least minimizes it to a considerable degree.
As a last note, patients who are fearful about the process or have medical problems such as angina pectoris, history of heart attack, epilepsy, asthma or high blood pressure can much benefit from laughing gas.
For patients with moderate to high levels of dental anxiety, an antianxiety medication such as Valium can also be prescribed to be taken the night before the appointment and an hour before treatment. These patients will need a ride to and from the office. Our patients with high anxiety levels who have had both anti anxiety medications in addition to nitrous oxide, have become our greatest success stories. Not only have they been able to complete all of their dental treatments and get the care they needed, but most have even gotten rid of their dental fear and we’re so proud to see their life changing transformation.