Most people have some familiarity with nitrous oxide. Often referred to as “laughing gas,” it has been used in dentistry for generations to help keep patients comfortable throughout treatment. However, even if you’re familiar with it, there are probably a few benefits of using it that you may not have heard.
Nitrous oxide is a boon for anxious patients because it creates a feeling of relaxation and even euphoria without putting you to sleep. This means that you can remain awake and alert, follow the dentist’s instructions, and remain part of your treatment, but still be comfortable even if you normally suffer from dental anxiety.
Scientists have studied how nitrous oxide works quite a bit, but they still don’t know exactly how it does what it does. However, it also has pain-relieving properties of its own and studies indicate that people who are more relaxed when they receive a numbing agent actually have better results from the medication. In other words, if you normally have difficulty getting numb or staying numb, having nitrous oxide during your procedure may help.
A strong gag reflex can make treatment unbearable for some people, as even the slightest touch anywhere near the back of the mouth causes an instant reaction. Interestingly, studies have shown that nitrous oxide helps prevent gag reflexes from kicking in. Again, scientists aren’t certain why this happens. It may be because sensations are deadened or because of the deep relaxation that comes with nitrous oxide, but either way, it has been proven effective.
Many people with dental anxiety or strong gag reflexes avoid the dental office altogether because they don’t like the way being in the chair feels, and they aren’t keen on taking strong sedatives that will put them out for the day. While the effects of nitrous oxide vary from person to person, as well as by the ratio of nitrous oxide to oxygen, and by the amount of time the nitrous oxide is in use for, it begins wearing off as soon as it is shut off. Within minutes, the human body releases all the nitrous oxide and takes in oxygen to replace it, so the effects of it are gone right away. This makes it possible to drive to and from appointments and to resume normal activities on the same day.
At Smile Designs, patient comfort and satisfaction are our main priorities, which is why we offer nitrous oxide alongside all types of procedures. Whether you’ve been putting off a regular cleaning because of a gag reflex or want to improve your smile, but aren’t sure you can settle your dental anxiety on your own, we’ll provide a gentle touch and come up with a custom solution to help you get the care you need. Email us or call 561-798-7807 to schedule an appointment today.