While routine dental visits and treatments are widely advised to protect your dental health, it can cause mild anxiety and even panic attacks for many people. Due to stress and fear, some patients avoid visits and put their oral health at risk. This can raise the possibility of serious conditions that could end up in dental emergencies.
With this in mind, we want our patients to feel as comfortable as possible so that we can provide them with the important dental health care they need. One of the most popular, safe, and effective resources we use is Nitrous Oxide Sedation, commonly known as laughing gas.
How Does It Work?
Nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and is inhaled by the patient through a small mask placed over the nose. When the gas enters the bloodstream, it travels to the brain and quickly interacts with neurotransmitters, effectively binding them and triggering the release of endorphins and dopamine— the body’s natural opioids.
The anesthetic effect occurs thanks to the stabilized neuron activity caused by the nitrous oxide in the brain, alleviating anxiety and making the patient more comfortable and relaxed.
Nitrous oxide got the nickname “laughing gas” because the release of dopamine makes patients feel euphoric, relaxed, and happy, which can cause them to giggle.
This sedative helps reduce pain and awareness to a point of relaxation, but it’s not intended to put you to sleep. You are still aware and responsive, making it possible for you to cooperate with the dentist’s instructions.
Besides feeling comfortable and relaxed, other reported effects are heaviness or tingling in the arms and legs, lightheadedness, and mild dizziness. These effects only last through the duration of the dental procedure and wear off quickly once the mask is removed.
To avoid further effects like nausea or vomiting, dentists suggest eating a light meal before and after your appointment.
Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be a negative experience. While some anxiety is normal, and even expected, be sure to let us know if you are feeling any stress or fear, and we will be happy to discuss your options with you. For further questions, please feel free to call our Montgomery office.