Nitrous oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’, provides some relaxation while the patient is still awake and aware of the procedure. This approach may be adequate for simple procedures or for those who are less anxious. It may also be used in children having simple extractions of primary teeth.
It is administered via a nasal mask. After two to three minutes, the patient will experience relaxation and light-headedness. It also acts as an analgesic decreasing discomfort from the procedure. Following the procedure, nitrous oxide gas is stopped and the patient is administered 100% oxygen. After two to three minutes, the effect of the nitrous oxide is gone and the patient regains normal feeling.
Patients may eat prior to nitrous oxide sedation and drive home safely. An escort is not necessary.
Nitrous oxide is quite safe and there are no reported problems. Nitrous oxide is always administered with oxygen. The machines feature a safety feature that prevents it from administering 100% nitrous oxide. There is a minimum of 30% oxygen delivered at all times during administration.