No Laughing Matter, Anymore
Originally named for the happy, giggly feeling it inspired, nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is most commonly used to provide minimal sedation to dental patients. With its discovery came public exhibitions of its effects, where onlookers could breathe the gas in and laugh and act silly for a small fee hence its name. After discovering its pain reducing properties, it was quickly adapted to being administered to patients prior to tooth extraction.
Sedation during oral surgery is an excellent option for more invasive procedures as well as for patients experiencing anxiety about their upcoming procedure. One of the most well-known devices for providing this relief is nitrous oxide.
Levels of Sedation
As mentioned, nitrous oxide is considered to be minimal sedation. There are four general categories of sedation.
- Minimal sedation – During this level of sedation, the patient remains completely conscious but also relaxed. The patient is capable of answering questions and remains awake.
- Moderate sedation – Still conscious but in a drowsier state, patients may experience amnesia or not be able to recall all of their experience while under moderate sedation.
- Deep sedation – This type of sedation places patients on the edge of consciousness. For example, many patients fall asleep during the procedure when under this kind of sedation.
- General anesthesia – General anesthesia is the strongest form of sedation. Patients are kept asleep throughout the surgical procedure.
How is Nitrous Oxide Used?
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through the nose using a small mask. The mildest form of sedation available, nitrous oxide goes to work almost instantly. Patients under this sedation feel more relaxed and at ease making nitrous oxide a good choice for patients struggling with fear of the dentist.
Being still completely conscious but more relaxed, can raise your pain threshold and reduce your gag reflex during your procedure as well. This is especially important when dental instruments are being used and your mouth is required to remain open for long periods of time.
Once the mask is removed, the effects of nitrous oxide wear off really quickly and you feel normal again in just a few moments. Because this form of sedation is so minimal, most patients are free to drive themselves home afterward.
Call Dr. Pollock About Your Questions Regarding Sedation
If you believe you might require some level of sedation for your next oral surgery appointment, call Dr. Pollock today at (469)264-8921. Anxiety and nerves leading up to a procedure are normal so questions are welcome and options can be made available on a case by case basis.