The Truth About Laughing Gas--Two Things You Should Know

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Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, has often been used as a gag in television shows and films. So it might surprise you to know that what you've seen might not be the truth about this gas. Nitrous oxide is a gas used by dentists with sedation dentistry practices in order to calm a patient who is about to undergo a procedure, such as a root canal. While laughing gas is never required for a dental procedure, it can make patients feel much more comfortable as they sit in the chair. Here are two things you should know about this gas.

Laughing Gas is Only for Stress and Anxiety

You may have seen people inhale nitrous oxide on tv without taking any other medication who seem to be in a blissful, pain-free state. You might assume that laughing gas is a painkiller. However, that isn't the case. Nitrous oxide has no painkilling properties and is only used as an anti-anxiety measure. If you are scheduled for a wisdom tooth extraction or another procedure, you will still be given the appropriate numbing agents so that you don't feel pain as the dentist works on your teeth.

You can Drive Home

Television and film dental patients make a big show of slurring their words and acting in a funny, madcap fashion when they've had laughing gas. Many TV patients would never be able to drive home in that condition.

In real life, however, while you may experience mild feelings of giddiness, you will still be able to interact with the dental staff and the dentist. You might feel as if you are slightly inebriated, but you can answer questions and remain alert in the event of an emergency. When the procedure is complete, even though you've had laughing gas, you will have the ability to get yourself home after the procedure, even if it includes driving alone to your home.

This is possible because the dental staff pays close attention to how much nitrous oxide you are given. It takes effect quickly and also fades quickly; that way, you're able to stay relaxed during your dental procedure but ready to go on with your day afterwards.

Discuss nitrous oxide with your dentist the next time you need to have any serious dental work done. Depending on your personal comfort level, they might recommend it for you so that you are at peace during your procedure. To learn more, talk with your dentist directly.