Nitrous oxide is one of the tools a dentist has to use as a sedative or anti-anxiety agent. It is a gas — a compound of nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrous oxide is in the category of a “conscious sedation,” meaning that the patient is awake and conscious during the procedure and can respond to directions and questions from the dentist.
Nitrous oxide is known popularly as “laughing gas” since it puts the patient in a mood that is giddy, even euphoric, while the procedure is underway. Any discomfort that is associated with the procedure will be more tolerable and it’s not uncommon to sense that time is passing more quickly.
The gas is administered through a nose mask and is safe for patients of any age. It is one of the more common sedatives that dentists use. Among its other benefits is that it has few unpleasant side effects, and it wears off quickly. If you tend to be anxious about dental appointments, talk with your dentist about whether you are a candidate for nitrous oxide.
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