Inhalation Sedation

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Here at Stanley Dentistry in Cary, NC, we offer inhalation dentistry (aka nitrous oxide or “laughing gas“) to ensure that each and every one of our patients feel safe, comfortable, and worry-free when at our office. We understand that many people have had poor dental experiences in the past and thus have a high level of anxiety when it comes to getting any kind of dental work done.

In many cases, these patients don’t want IV sedation but they don’t want to be fully awake for their procedure either. Inhalation sedation is a nice medium between the two.

For some procedures, we like to always use inhalation sedation (regardless of the patient’s anxiety level) to minimize pain or discomfort. We also recommend using inhalation sedation if you have a particularly strong gag reflex. The nitrous oxide relaxes the gag reflex, allowing our doctors to perform the procedure more effectively.

Is inhalation dentistry safe?

Nitrous oxide is completely safe and is the most common type of sedation in dentist offices across the globe. The gas is colorless, sweet-smelling, and doesn’t irritate the lungs, nose, or throat. Many dentists prefer laughing gas over other forms of sedation because it works fast and has reversible effects.

How does inhalation sedation work?

Nitrous oxide offers non-invasive, rapid, adjustable sedation. Unlike some other sedation methods, the depth of sedation can be adjusted and the dentist can quickly decrease the sedative effects. No other method of sedation gives the dentist this much control. Our doctors administer nitrous oxide gas through a tube that connects to a small mask. During the procedure, a tank will continually send the gas into the mask, keeping you sedated for the entire time.

How long will inhalation sedation take?

Nitrous oxide works quickly because, unlike other forms of sedation, the body doesn’t metabolize laughing gas. Instead, the gas is expelled through your breath in a matter of minutes, which means the patient has no waiting period or “hangover” at the end of the procedure. The initial onset of inhalation sedation usually takes a few seconds and the recovery time is around three to five minutes.

What are the side effects of inhalation sedation?

Compared to most forms of sedation dentistry, laughing gas has very few side effects. Most patients walk out of the office post-procedure feeling fine and are able to go right back to their daily routine. Occasionally, a patient will experience:

  • Shivering
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue

It’s best to eat lightly before the procedure and to rest five minutes post-procedure to keep these side effects from occurring.

Is inhalation sedation right for me?

Laughing gas is the perfect way to avoid dental anxiety, pain, and complications surrounding the gag reflex. Come in for a consultation to see if our dental experts recommend using nitrous oxide at your next procedure.