Nitrous Oxide – A Brief Overview

Tuesday May 14, 2013 by
Melissa Brown, DDS

Many of us have had the experience of having to go through a root canal and it may have not been the best experience to endure. In the past, root canal procedures were known to go hand in hand with pain and were known to be very painful procedures. It was very common for people to suffer from severe anxiety as a result of the fear of going through this procedure. This was before the introduction of nitrous oxide to be used in the root canal procedure.

Pain and anxiety management has become an important part of the dentistry procedures and this has been highly improved with the use of nitrous oxide gas to induce what is termed as conscious sedation. This is the use of nitrous oxide which is a colorless, sweet gas that brings about a feeling of relief and relaxation) to produce a state of some sort of depression of the central nervous system which can enable treatment to be done while still being able to achieve verbal communication with the patient. This gas produces a feeling of drowsiness and a tingling feeling in the hands and feet.

It is important to know a few things about nitrous oxide before one jumps the gun. There are a number of categories of people who are recommended for the use of nitrous oxide:

1.) Fearful and anxious patients.
2.) Those who cannot cope with stress or have phobias like needle phobia.
3.) Patients with special needs with the ability to communicate.
4.) Patients with special needs like emergency treatments or complicated treatments.

There are reasons that nitrous oxide therapy may not be a viable option for some patients. You shouldn’t consider nitrous oxide therapy if:

  • You have the inability to communicate
  • You have problems breathing through your nose
  • You have any psychiatric disorders
  • You have any obstructive pulmonary disease
  • You have neuromuscular disorders
  • You are in your first trimester of pregnancy.

Nitrous oxide has become a widely accepted option for people who fear the dentist, or have anxiety surrounding a certain sensitivity to pain. Always be sure to ask your dentist about the benefits and potential side effects to make a well informed decision regarding its’ use in your treatment plan.