Do Dentists Still Use Laughing Gas?

Do Dentists Still Use Laughing Gas?

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you might wonder if they still use laughing gas. The answer may surprise you.

Laughing gas creates euphoria. It can even make you giggle. Dentists have administered laughing gas to their patients for centuries, but some are moving away from this tried-and-true anesthesia in favor of modern approaches.

Dentists Still Use Laughing Gas – and Here’s Why

Dentists have been using nitrous oxide for generations. In fact, scientists discovered nitrous oxide in 1772. They found it to be useful across many applications, and many healthcare professionals today still use laughing gas to make patients more comfortable.

How laughing gas got its name

Laughing gas has a funny name, but it delivers serious relief to people who are anxious about dental work or undergoing a particularly lengthy or complex procedure. Now known as nitrous oxide by scientists, laughing gas has gone by several names over the years. Way back in 1844, a dentist by the name of Horace Wells was the firsts to use nitrous oxide on a patient. Wells named the gas “phlogisticated nitrous air” – not surprisingly, that name never caught on.

Many years later, the scientist who discovered the pain-relieving properties of nitrous oxide was fascinated by how the gas made him giggle, so he gave it the name “laughing gas” in 1799.

Laughing gas works well

Healthcare professionals still use nitrous oxide because it works well for many applications.

Laughing gas works in three main ways:

  • By quieting neurotransmitter, which are the chemicals that help pass messages between the brain and the body
  • By telling the brain to release norepinephrine, a chemical that prevents pain signals from reaching the brain
  • By stimulating the released of dopamine that creates a pleasant feeling of euphoria

Dental sedation cost is another benefit – nitrous oxide is less expensive than other approaches to dental sedation.

Complications and adverse reactions can happen with any type of medication or procedure – including nitrous oxide – but laughing gas causes fewer side effects than other types of dental sedation. What’s more, the effects of nitrous oxide wear off as soon as your dentist stops the flow of gas.

Some Dentists Don’t Use Laughing Gas as Often Anymore – Here’s Why

Some dentists don’t administer nitrous oxide as often anymore, and for a variety of reasons. First, there are many alternatives to nitrous oxide when it comes to sedation dentistry. These alternatives include oral conscious sedation and intravenous (IV) sedation.

Oral conscious sedation

Your dentist gives you a pill or liquid solution that contains a sedative. You take the pill or liquid by mouth 30 to 60 minutes before your procedure to give the sedative time to take effect.

Oral conscious sedation will make you groggy during the procedure, and you may even fall asleep. Your dental team will be able to awaken you with a gentle nudge, though, and you’ll be awake enough to ask and answer questions.

The sedating effects of oral conscious sedation last for several hours. You’ll likely wake up feeling tired, and this sleepiness will persist for the rest of the day. This type of sedation temporarily affects your memory and motor skills, so you’ll need someone to drive you home after your procedure, and you’ll probably want to take the rest of the day off work.

Oral conscious sedation is perfect for anyone who feels somewhat anxious about dental work, or who has to have a moderately lengthy procedure.

IV sedation

In IV sedation, your dental team administers a liquid sedative through an IV needle in your arm. Team members will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels the entire time you are receiving IV sedation. Your dental team can adjust the flow of sedatives through your IV, and can even administer reversal medications if necessary.

IV sedation is the deepest form of sedation dentistry available in a dentist’s office. If you are like most people who receive IV sedation, you’ll fall asleep and have little to no memory of the procedure when you wake up. Although you’ll wake up immediately after the dental team stops the flow of sedation into your arm, you’ll probably feel a bit groggy for a while – plan on having someone drive you home.

This option is best if you experience extreme dental anxiety or are about to undergo an especially complex or lengthy procedure.

Only dentists with special certification can provide these levels of sedation to their patients. Our dentist can help you decide which type of sedation dentistry – including laughing gas – is right for you.

Can I find a sedation dentist near me?

Yes! A sedation dentist in Bolingbrook is just around the corner from you at 311 Dental.

For more information about the use of laughing gas or other forms of sleep dentistry, consult with 311 Dental. Our Bolingbrook dentist offers sedation dentistry to ensure that your dental experience is as positive as possible.