Nitrous oxide first appeared in the late 1700s. But it wasn't until 1844 that dentists finally used laughing gas to ease painful procedures when American dentist Horace Wells asked a colleague to pull his infected tooth while he inhaled nitrous oxide. Wells was so impressed with the minimized pain that he decided to demonstrate its use officially - to physicians and medical students in Boston.
Dental patients in the 21st century are still laughing - with relief - thanks to Wells. Laughing gas dentists use this sedation method for simple tooth extractions, root canals, dental inlays, oral surgery procedures and more.
Laughing Gas: How Sweet Is That Air, Anyway?
While inhaling nitrous oxide, you might feel warm, pleasant and relaxed, along with lightness in the limbs - others describe a weighted feeling.
Aside from its long track record of success, laughing gas dentists still sweeten the air for several other reasons:
Nitrous Oxide: When the Air Goes Slightly Sour
Laughing gas lives up to its name. Because of its euphoric effect, some people get the giggles, which might get a little embarrassing if you're a reserved person. On a serious note though, your nitrous oxide dentist will ask you not to eat a few hours before your procedure. Some patients feel nauseous from nitrous oxide, so fasting reduces incidents of vomiting. Others may get a slight headache.
Because of the mind-altering aspects of laughing gas (some people dream during their procedures, even though they are conscious and able to respond to questions and instructions), laughing gas dentists recommend certain people explore other forms of sedation dentistry, especially if they are:
Others should ask a nitrous oxide dentist for more information if they are:
Recent studies, cited by the American Dental Association (ADA), show a possible link between nitrous oxide sedation and pneumonia, fever, severe nausea and infection. Complications occur after major medical surgeries in the studies, rather than dental procedures. The problems may relate to higher laughing gas to oxygen ratios used in those procedures - about a 70/30 percent mix. Dental patients typically get 50 percent or less nitrous oxide, according to the ADA. The studies are ongoing.
Getting Your Kicks While Kicking Out Decay
For most of us, nitrous oxide remains safe. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests laughing gas may be the "safest sedative in dentistry".
Interested in finding a nitrous oxide dentist? Call us at 1-866-970-0441. We'll find a great laughing gas dentist or a specialist in pediatric dentistry to meet your specific needs.