Nitrous oxide is used to reduce anxiety and alleviate pain during dental procedures. It will not put you to sleep. While under its effects, you’ll be able to respond to requests or answer questions although your speech may be slow and a little slurred.
Since nitrous oxide only alleviates pain, you will know when you receive an injection, but you’re likely not to care. Your heartbeat and breathing will remain normal.
Before receiving nitrous oxide, you’ll first inhale 100% oxygen. The nitrous oxide is then mixed into the mixture and you will find it to have a pleasant taste and odor. The mixture will be adjusted to ensure your comfort.
You can expect to feel comfortable, warm, relaxed and maybe a bit silly.
You might also notice
- tingling in your extremities
- numbness in your mouth
- a sensation of heaviness or lightness
- a change in your perception of sounds – either muffled or like “white noise”
- on rare occasions, anxious
Typically, you can expect to feel relaxed. When you’re asked questions, you’ll be cooperative.
Once the mixture is turned back to 100% oxygen, you’ll begin to feel normal. There is a delay of up to 15 minutes once you’ve transitioned off of nitrous oxide. So be certain to have a designated driver if you leave the office sooner than that. If you don’t have a designated driver, be sure to get approval to drive.
Nitrous oxide has several advantages including:
- A history of safety with no lung or heart side effects
- Minimizes gagging
- Works quickly. Pain killing and relaxation in approximately 2-3 minutes.
- No uncomfortable “Hangover-like” feeling afterwards
- Nitrous oxide should not be used if you are pregnant.
- Disclose all medications you’re taking prior to being treated with nitrous oxide including: If you have a history of substance abuse, please speak with your drug counselor prior to scheduling treatment.
- Prescribed medications
- Over-the-counter vitamins or herbal supplements
- Please disclose any known sensitivity or allergic reaction to any medicine.
- If you have any of the following conditions, please disclose them at the time you make an appointment that will use nitrous oxide:
- COPD – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Ear infection
- Recent eardrum surgery
- Recent concussion or head injury
- Recent eye surgery
- Sickle cell anemia or related disease
- A cold
- Other difficulties with breathing, particularly through the nose.