Dental Sedation

How Laughing Gas Works in Sedation Dentistry


Many St. Louis residents from all walks of life have trouble going to the dentist. That might be because of dental anxiety, low pain tolerance, having a disease that causes uncontrollable movement, or many other factors. Whatever their issue might be, sedation dentistry is an option that many of them choose to get the dental work they need. When they explore this avenue, something that they often come into contact with is “laughing gas.” This chemical has high name recognition, but people often do not fully understand it.

What Is It?

Laughing gas is a colorless and odorless gas that is administered to patients to sedate them. Its scientific name is nitrous oxide, and it has been used for decades in the medical industry. It has been found to generally be safe and is used every day in medical facilities across the country.

How Long It Takes to Start Working

Nitrous oxide starts to affect patients quickly, but not instantly. Usually, a medical professional will have a patient start to breath the gas in while continuing to talk to them. After a few minutes, the patient will lose some level of consciousness, and the treatment can begin.

Doses and Effects

Contrary to popular belief, laughing gas does not always “put you to sleep.” In fact, it can be given in a range of doses that all have different effects. In general, nitrous oxide does three things: Reduces consciousness, compromises memory, and kills pains. The three categories of doses most medical professionals use are listed below.

Low – This will deeply relax the patient and slightly compromise their memory, but they will retain consciousness throughout the appointment. This dose is usually used for mild cases of dental anxiety and other non-serious issues.

Medium – On a medium dose, the patient will remain conscious, but they will be considerably sedated and will likely not remember the appointment. This is used for stronger cases of anxiety, more severe issues, and painful procedures.

High – This dose will take the patient to the edge of consciousness. They will nearly be asleep and have no memory of the events after they regain full consciousness. High doses are used for unmanageable anxiety, severe alternative issues, and exceptionally painful treatments.

Coming out of It

Most of us have either experienced first hand or seen what happens when someone comes back from nitrous oxide. They are often disoriented, slurring their speech, and having trouble walking. What these effects come from is the process of returning to consciousness. Laughing gas is very powerful, and though recovery from it is generally quick, there is a period of difficulty. Generally, people will come back to their senses within twenty minutes and feel fine.
If you have difficulty going to the dentist, you should not simply accept those feelings and choose to never go. Your oral health will suffer, and you will pay for it later on. Instead, give sedation dentistry a try. When you do, there is a good chance you will use laughing gas. Now that you know the basics of this compound, you can understand what is going on in your body and prepare yourself for its effects.

The Dental Anesthesia Center: Sedation and Sleep Dentistry

950 Francis Pl #305

Clayton, MO


(314) 862-7844

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