Nitrous Sedation

Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective sedative agent that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose to help you relax.

Nitrous oxide, sometimes called “laughing gas,” is one option the dental health center may offer to help make you more comfortable during certain procedures. It is not intended to put you to sleep. You will be able to hear and respond to any requests or directions the dentist may have. Your dentist will ask you to breathe normally through your nose, and within a few short minutes you should start to feel the effects of the nitrous oxide. You may feel light-headed or a tingling in your arms and legs. Some people say their arms and legs feel heavy. Ultimately, you should feel calm and comfortable. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off soon after the mask is removed.

How Is Laughing Gas Used?

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or happy gas, is a colorless, non-flammable gas. This gas is used in medical and dental procedures as a sedative. It helps to relieve anxiety before the procedure and allow the patient to relax.

Laughing gas is an anesthetic used by medical professionals to help you remain calm before a procedure. It’s not meant to put you fully to sleep.

Before your procedure, your doctor will ask you for your consent to use nitrous oxide. After that, a plastic mask will be placed over your mouth and nose. The laughing gas flows through the mask and you breathe it in.

You may be given laughing gas through a nasal hood, which covers their nose but not their mouth. Sometimes, a familiar scent will be added in to help them get used to having the mask or nasal hood on.

You’ll start to feel the effects of the laughing gas within a few minutes. As laughing gas doesn’t put you fully to sleep, you’ll still be able to hear what’s going on around you. You may still be able to respond to questions that your doctor asks you and follow the instructions that they give you throughout the procedure.

Nitrous oxide is a depressant, so it slows your body down. Once it kicks in, you may feel:

  • Happy
  • Giggly
  • Light-headed 
  • Mild euphoria
  • Relaxed

Physically, you might feel like your arms and legs are heavy. You may also experience a tingling sensation in your limbs.

Once your procedure is over, your doctor will remove the mask that’s providing the nitrous oxide. The effects of laughing gas typically wear off within a few minutes. You might be given 100% oxygen following the after the procedure. The oxygen helps you fully recover within minutes.

Talk to your doctor at the Dental Health Center about whether nitrous oxide would be a good option for you.