A significant number of Americans do not visit the dentist for regular checkups because they are too fearful or suffer from dental anxiety. Sedation dentistry offers an excellent way to provide a safe, anxiety-free, dental experience to those who are afraid of the dentist.
Here are some advantages associated with sedation dentistry:
- Anxiety is alleviated.
- Few side effects.
- More can be accomplished during each visit.
- No needles.
- No pain.
- Perfectly safe.
- Procedures seem to take less time.
At Smile 4 Life Dental, we feel the most comfortable offering the most popular type of dental sedative, which is nitrous oxide. Inhalation sedation, laughing gas, relative analgesia, RA, happy gas, gas and air, nitrous, nitrous oxide, N2O-O2… this one has more names than any other sedation technique! And deservedly so. Inhalation sedation with nitrous oxide (N2O) and oxygen (O2) has been described as “representing the most nearly ‘ideal’ clinical sedative circumstance.”
What is nitrous oxide sedation?
Nitrous oxide is an odorless and colorless gas. In the early 1800s a British scientist found that inhaling nitrous produces highly pleasurable sensations. New York dentist Horace Wells learned in 1844 that nitrous could distract patients from acute pain such as the type associated with tooth extraction. Dentistry has relied upon nitrous oxide ever since then, but the techniques, type of gas mixture and delivery methods have been greatly improved. Nitrous oxide and oxygen sedation is used not only in dental offices but hospitals, outpatient and inpatient settings as well.
What is the effect of this type of sedation?
Sedation means a state of relaxation. It ranges along a spectrum from minimal on one end to general anesthesia on the other (this generally applies to surgery patients in a hospital setting). During minimal sedation patients can still hear, see and to the action taking place around them. But people are much less likely to experience anxiety as a result of these environmental stimuli.
Nitrous oxide and oxygen sedation falls within the mildest category of sedation. Patients may feel tingling or a sense of well-being. However they remain alert. Once inhalation is discontinued the effects end also, often within seconds.
How is nitrous oxide and oxygen sedation given to patients?
Nitrous oxide and oxygen gases are stored in canisters and delivered to patients via a tube and small mask. A flowmeter regulates the amount of nitrous oxide and oxygen delivered. This simple and straightforward system is easy for the dentist and dental staff to operate and maintain.
Is nitrous oxide and oxygen sedation safe?
Because nitrous oxide and oxygen sedation has become a mainstay of medical and dental practice, researchers have been able to study it across many decades. They know how nitrous oxide and oxygen sedation affects very young patients, pregnant women and the elderly. They have documented the reactions occurring between nitrous and the medications millions of people take every day. This careful scrutiny indicates that nitrous oxide and oxygen sedation is extremely safe for the vast majority of people.
Among the most famous studies is that conducted by Dr. Gardner Colton of New York’s Columbia University. Colton documented more than 193,000 cases without a fatality. The work of Dr. Niels Bjorn was even more striking. He followed over 4 million cases, again without finding a single death.
Nitrous oxide and oxygen sedation carries few if any side effects and produces no known allergic response. For these reasons it makes a nearly ideal form of anxiety relief in the contemporary dental office.