Many people dread going to the dentist. In fact, statistics show that over 85% of the world’s population fear dentists and dental procedures, a great sum of which have such crippling fear that they would neglect going to the dentist for years. Dentists are aware of that problem and are constantly trying to introduce more relaxing elements in addition to developing ways to deliver dental procedures with as little pain as possible. One of the breakthroughs in that endeavor came in the 1800s, when Horace Wells first used nitrous oxide as a sedation method during a tooth extraction procedure. Since then, it has become possibly the most common pain relief and anxiety relief method. Most dentists in the US now use nitrous oxide as their preferred pain control method. But how does nitrous oxide work? Does it have any side effects? Let’s find out.
What is Nitrous Oxide?
Nitrous oxide – commonly known as laughing gas – is a colorless, odorless gas formed chemically of 2 parts nitrogen and 1 part oxygen. It is administered from a ready-made canister through a nozzle or a face mask placed over the patient’s nose and mouth, and the patient inhales the amount of gas as set by the dentist according to the degree of sedation required.
How Does Nitrous Oxide Work?
The most common understanding of how nitrous oxide works is that it affects the chemistry of the brain, causing the release of norepinephrine – also known as the fight-or-flight hormone – which blocks painful stimuli. In addition, it stimulates the release of dopamine, the happiness hormone, so you feel euphoric and relaxed.
Who Needs Nitrous Oxide?
Nitrous oxide is needed when any dental procedure that requires numbing of the area is done. This ranges from simple fillings to tooth extractions and even placing dental implants. Procedures that usually produce no pain – such as teeth cleaning and placing braces – usually require no sedation.
Is Nitrous Oxide Harmful?
The dose of the administered gas is regulated by a professional who is certified in sedation administration. They increase and decrease the dose as the amount of sedation needed rises or falls.
Understanding how does nitrous oxide work is important for both patients and dentists to make sure no complications arise. However, with our expertise and professional staff, there’s no doubt that it is effective and safe.
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