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If you’re in need of a dental procedure, you may have heard your dentist mention “laughing gas.” Don’t worry, the anesthetic is as worry-free as the name would imply! Before going in for your oral surgery or dental care procedure, here are a few things you should know about this commonly used anesthetic.

1. “Laughing Gas” is the common name for nitrous oxide.

Laughing gas and nitrous oxide are one in the same—a safe and effective anesthetic and sedation method administered to dental patients through a mask in an oxygen mixture. Laughing gas won’t put you to sleep like general anesthesia. Instead, inhaling this mixture will make you feel a slight light tingling sensation. You will have a feeling of general numbness throughout the body and become a bit lightheaded, but you will still be able to communicate with your dentist throughout the procedure. All in all, laughing gas makes uncomfortable procedures easier on the patient.

2. The process of administering laughing gas is quite simple.

Laughing gas does not require shots or IVs for administration. Instead, you simply breathe this mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide through a facemask. By breathing normally, you can absorb the anesthetic through the lungs and quickly feel the sedative effects. Once the mask has been removed, the effects of nitrous oxide sedation will wear off quickly by simply inhaling and exhaling!

3. Nitrous oxide has been used for centuries.

Medical professionals have been using nitrous oxide as an oral sedation method for their patients for a very long time now—over 200 years, to be exact! Laughing gas was first discovered in 1793 by an English scientist named Joseph Priestly. Now, it is still one of the most commonly used anesthetics. Although nitrous oxide is commonly recognized as a secure and efficient sedative, it may not be suitable for everyone. Below are some factors that may increase the risks associated with using nitrous oxide. It is important to inform your dentist if you are in the early age of pregnancy, have respiratory issues, vitamin B12 and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency, and a history of substance abuse and depression symptoms.

4. There are a number of benefits to using nitrous oxide.

Dentists love using nitrous oxide for quite a few reasons. First, the depth of sedation can be easily increased and decreased. It also works very rapidly (in about 2 or 3 minutes) and is very safe for the brain, heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys. Nitrous oxide is commonly used in pediatric dentistry and family dentistry. It is safe for young patients, patients with disabilities, and patients with dental anxiety—the calming and numbing effects work quickly and there are no needles required!

5. Laughing gas is very safe when administered by a trained professional.

Nitrous oxide is very safe and does not damage any of your internal organs. In fact, the only real dangers from using nitrous oxide when administered by a professional are the disorienting effects—meaning you could trip or fall if you stand too quickly. Thankfully, these effects only last for 3-5 minutes after the mask has been removed. You will not experience any “hangover” effects from the nitrous oxide and you will be able to safely drive yourself home after the dental treatment procedure. Do you have any questions about your upcoming dental procedure? We’re here to help! Call your local River North or Loop dentist, or talk to an oral surgeon in downtown Chicago today! Sources: []