“Relax, take deep breaths and count back from 100,” is something your dentist may have told you before undergoing a complex dental procedure. You’ve been informed that you will be inhaling laughing gas, but oral surgery is no laughing matter – so where does the name come from?
Dentists use laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide or just nitrous, to mildly sedate patients during more complex dental procedures, such as drilling or surgery. Laughing gas leaves the patient conscious, but dulls their pain and awareness. Its name comes from the calming effect that it has on the mind and body, sometimes causing a euphoric or giddy feeling that can even bring on a laughing fit.
Laughing gas is not only an easy alternative to full sedation, it’s also extremely safe, even for children and pregnant women. The only people advised to pass on laughing gas are those with phobias or disabilities that prevent them from breathing through a mask; people with psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia; people who are sensitive to nitrous oxide and people who suffer from emphysema or other lung conditions.
Modern dental procedures are performed with the patients’ comfort and best interest in mind. Laughing gas is just another way your dentist is working to make your visit as comfortable and pain-free as possible!