The Benefits and Safety of Medical Nitrous Oxide

The Benefits and Safety of Medical Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide (N2O), popularly known as laughing gas, is a colorless and odorless gas commonly used as a mild sedative. It is a chemical compound that is highly beneficial for people with extreme panic tendencies or anxiety during surgery or visits to the dentist.

The N2O will be inhaled through a mask or nasal hood and provides a calming and pain-relieving effect. 

If you can still recall your dental visits as a child, you’re probably one of those kids who’s probably at the dental clinic’s door crying for a way out. It can’t be helped, and you’re not alone. Most people experience this type of anxiety as a child, which is why it is highly recommended to use nitrous oxide. 

Did you know?

A dentist named Horace Wells first used N2O in 1844 as an anesthetic for his patients during a tooth extraction. This was after he noticed how some people that received minor injuries while under the Nitrous Oxide’s influence only noticed their pain when the gas wore off.

Nitrous oxide is a safer sedative that helps alleviate a child’s dental anxiety, making it easier for them, their parent and even the dentist to see through the entire procedure. When a child inhales the N2O, it will make them feel more comfortable and even reduce their pain or discomfort during the whole dental procedure. Lastly, with their muscles relaxed, it reduces any gagging tendencies, making it a lot easier for the dental practitioner to perform the procedure.

What Are the Benefits of Medical Nitrous Oxide?

Medical Nitrous Oxide (N2O) is a safe and efficient option for pain management and anxiety reduction in various medical procedures. Here are some of the main benefits when using Nitrous Oxide during dental visits.

Pain Management

As mentioned, N2O is highly efficient in helping patients manage their pain, particularly for procedures that cause mild to moderate pain. It works by providing a calming and pain-relieving effect, which helps a lot to reduce the need for more potent forms of anesthesia for pain management. This type of sedative is also guaranteed safe for children with dental anxiety during visits.

Reduce Anxiety

When exposed to Nitrous Oxide, children with dental anxiety will feel calm. The N2O then makes it easier for dentists to make their child patients sit comfortably throughout the entire procedure. Aside from dental procedures, N2O also helps alleviate anxiety about medical procedures.

Speeds Up Recovery Time

Most patients exposed to Nitrous Oxide have faster recovery times because it reduces the need to use other forms of sedation. This helps minimize downtime and allows patients to return to regular activities after the procedures.

Improves Patient Experience

The first thing that comes into patients’ minds before a procedure happens is the fear and discomfort they will experience during the whole dental procedure or surgery. Not to mention the pain that comes when being injected with anesthetics to improve pain management. N2O is a good alternative that doesn’t require you to experience pain either way.

Fewer to No Side Effects

Compared to anesthetics, N2O has fewer side effects on the patient. The patient won’t experience any side effects, such as hallucinations or disorientation, as this sedative has no lingering effects on the patient.

Safe For All Ages

Nitrous Oxide is safe for all ages. Whether the patient exposed is a child or an elderly person, it is a safe option for most patients who fear needles or find it difficult to swallow pills for pain management. Besides that, Nitrous Oxide is also easy to eliminate from one’s body.

What Makes Nitrous Oxide Safe?

Like general anesthesia approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Nitrous Oxide has also been approved as a general anesthetic commonly used as a sedative for hospitals and dental offices.

Things You Should Do Before You Expose Your Child to N2O 

Before you expose your child to N2O or laughing gas, it is always advised that you need to educate them about what it is. That way, in the future, your child won’t feel abused or taken advantage of during this age.

Here are some things you can do as a parent or guardian to keep the child informed.

  1. Let them know what Nitrous Oxide is for and how they will be exposed to it, including what effect it will bring on their bodies.
  2. You need to reassure the child that the gas won’t harm them.
  3. Encourage your child to inhale through their nose during the sedation to receive the gas and not to hold their breaths.
  4. Make sure that you check that your child is relaxed and comfortable before the dental procedure begins.
  5. Nitrous Oxide tends to have a negative effect on some patients who had a full, heavy meal. Try to give your child a light and healthy breakfast or lunch before their appointment to avoid nausea or vomiting.

FAQs About Nitrous Oxide

Is Nitrous Oxide generally safe for kids?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has stated that Nitrous Oxide is a safe sedative that helps reduce anxiety among children during dental procedures. When inhaled, it gives them a good sensation that allows them to relax and be comfortable instead of anxious. It is highly recommended that children to get their dental fillings, extractions, and crowns.

How long does Nitrous last in kids?

The effects of N20 often lift quickly, taking only around five minutes to subside. After the effect subsides, children can start feeling themselves again without anything remaining in their system. Unlike IV sedation or oral medications, these take several hours before your children can begin to feel themselves once again.

At what age is Nitrous Oxide allowed in kids?

Children under two years old do not have the maturity and capability to understand and distinguish the effects of this anesthesia. It is not recommended to restrain an anxious toddler while exposing them to high concentrations of Nitrous Oxide.

Is it really safe to sedate a child before any dental work?

Most children share a common anxiety about being at the dentist. That’s why for patients with particular health conditions, there could be high risks. Dentists would usually inquire about the patient’s medical history before sedation.

Who cannot use Nitrous Oxide for dental work?

With Nitrous Oxide often causing hallucinations and feelings of daydreaming, this is highly not allowed for patients who have severe psychiatric disorders. Therefore, if you know a child that has this, it is highly discouraged.

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