Nitrous oxide is a type of anesthesia available for patients who are anxious about undergoing dental treatment. Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide helps patients to relax, yet remain awake during treatment. Nitrous oxide is often used on children who are mildly or moderately anxious about dental visits.
Nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen, and delivered through a small mask over the nose. As the gas begins to work, the patient becomes less agitated and nervous. The effects of nitrous oxide are mild. It is safe to use, and quickly eliminated from the body. A patient remains awake and aware, and can continue to interact with the dentist. After the mask is removed and the gas turned off, its effects wear off very quickly. The patient is usually given oxygen, which helps to flush the body of any remaining nitrous oxide, a few minutes after it is turned off.
Nitrous oxide has few-to-no side effects, but can sometimes cause mild nausea.
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine