No Laughing Matter? How Laughing Gas Helps Anxious Dental Patients

It's almost time for your regular dental checkup, and you might be dreading it. If visiting the dentist triggers a wave of anxiety, you're not alone. Of course, it's not the dentist's fault—and modern dentistry is delivered with the utmost concern for a patient's comfort. However, you may have thought that your dental anxiety was something you just had to live with. Have you considered asking your dentist for assistance?


You may have tried to deal with your dental anxiety in a rational way (mind over matter), but anxieties are rarely that rational, are they? In any event, there's a risk that you'll allow your fear to stop you from attending your checkups, and this should not be allowed to happen—since it's your oral health that will suffer. So how can a dentist help a patient who's reluctant to set foot in their clinic? 


Sedation dentistry isn't necessarily the same as surgical sedation— so you will not be unconscious. Total sedation in dentistry is rare and is reserved for complex dental surgeries (and a regular checkup doesn't qualify). You will benefit from light sedation, specifically nitrous oxide. Also known as laughing gas, this acts as a mild relaxant and makes your checkup both calm and productive. 


Very little preparation is needed to administer nitrous oxide during a dental session. All you need to do is ask, and if you're a suitable candidate (with no conflicting health issues that will affect the use of the gas), it can be provided. It's best to request nitrous oxide gas ahead of your scheduled appointment. You may be advised to moderate your diet in the hours leading up to your appointment to avoid the risk of nausea.


When nitrous oxide is administered, all you need to do is place the face mask over your mouth and nose and breathe normally. You're inhaling the pre-approved concentration of the gas, which will take effect without much delay. You will not fall asleep and will remain aware of your surroundings. When your dentist has completed their work, the face mask will be reapplied, and you will inhale oxygen to counteract the effects of the gas, which will wear off more or less immediately. Aftereffects are possible, but will not necessarily be experienced. These can include mild nausea, some lightheadedness, and slight grogginess—and won't last for very long.

Yes, it's called laughing gas, but it's not as though you will be laughing your way through the appointment (which would certainly make it difficult for a dentist to inspect your teeth). As mentioned, it's a mild relaxant and induces a state of calm. The effects are noticeable, but not overwhelming, and the process couldn't be simpler. 

For more info about sedation dentistry, contact a local company.