Most dental appointments go smoothly. The usual plan is for Dr. Eshraghi to remove plaque from your teeth through brushing and scraping, polish them to eliminate any stains, check under the tongue, perform a professional flossing, then give you a few suggestions on how to keep your teeth clean and schedule the next appointment.
However, in cases where we need to perform more invasive dental work such as surgery, we may need to use nitrous oxide (N2O), also known as laughing gas. Like many aspects of dentistry, laughing gas is not well understood in the general public. What is laughing gas and what does it do?
What is Nitrous Oxide?
Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless form of sedation that releases pleasurable feelings to relax patients. It works quickly and has irreversible effects, lending much to its effectiveness. We administer it using a breathing mask before invasive dental procedures.
Does Nitrous Oxide Produce any Side Effects?
According to the CDA, the overwhelming majority of patients who receive nitrous oxide treatment don't experience any side effects. When side effects do occur, however, they are usually because the nitrous level is too high or the amount the patient is inhaling changes rapidly. Possible side effects include shivering, fatigue, nausea, excessive sweating, headaches, and vomiting.
When we turn off the laughing gas, we give the patient oxygen for about five minutes. The oxygen will prevent headaches, help the patient regain their alertness, and purge any gas that might remain in the lungs.
We also recommend that you eat a light meal before receiving laughing gas and avoid large meals for three hours after the procedure. Dr. Eshraghi will also let you know when you can drive safely again.
Is Nitrous Oxide Safe for Children
Laughing gas is not only safe for children, but it's a preferred option for children with dental anxiety. Some children, however, may get nauseous if they receive this treatment. Others can have trouble wearing the mask properly, so it's not for everyone. If your child needs a more invasive treatment, Dr. Eshraghi will work with you to determine whether nitrous oxide is necessary.
Despite its ease of administration, laughing gas isn't the best option in every single case. It is not recommended for patients with certain conditions, such as those who:
[[[Are in the first three months of pregnancy
~Have a record of drug addiction or emotional issues
~Receive bleomycin sulfate treatment
~Have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
~Have a cobalamin deficiency
~Have a methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency]]]
But the best option is to practice good dental hygiene and thus prevent any need for invasive dental procedures involving nitrous oxide. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day to prevent bacteria, plaque, and tartar from building up. Come in for dental exams and professional cleanings twice a year so we can provide a higher level of cleaning that you can do yourself and access the hard-to-reach areas.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please give us a call at (971) 317-8414.