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922 Waltham St #202 Lexington, MA 02421

922 Waltham St #202 Lexington, MA 02421

What Is Nitrous Oxide and How Does It Work for Dentistry?

dental care for patient

If you’ve heard of “laughing gas,” you’ve probably heard of nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a naturally occurring gas commonly used in sedation dentistry. It is a very safe type of anesthesia when applied cautiously and under the supervision of a specialist.

What Is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a natural gas that makes up about 0.04 percent of the earth’s atmosphere. On its own, nitrous oxide is not very useful in the medical field. However, it is often mixed with oxygen in a 50:50 ratio for anesthesia and sedation in dentist’s offices.

Some people find it hard to calm down, sit still, or keep their mouth open during restorative care or a root canal. A simple and effective way to keep a patient calm while the dentist works is to give them nitrous oxide. 

Moreover, nitrous oxide is a good sedative for dentistry because it works quickly, is safe overall, and doesn’t take long for the patient to wake up after it’s given. N2O helps you relax while your teeth are fixed and lets you return to your everyday life quickly after your dentist visit.

How Does Nitrous Oxide Work?

When nitrous oxide is inhaled, it dissolves into the bloodstream quickly. This is why your body only needs 5 to 10 seconds to feel the effects of nitrous oxide.

The gas works by interfering with communication between nerves and the brain. This prevents pain messages from reaching the brain. The gas helps to relax the muscles and your body and is also known for its calming effects.

Nitrous oxide is most commonly used during procedures requiring patients to remain still and open their mouths. It helps to keep them relaxed and slows down their heart rate. This is useful for invasive oral and dental procedures that require the mouth to remain open for a long time.

Furthermore, this form of anesthesia can be used with other types, such as general anesthesia. Nitrous oxide often helps to alleviate anxiety and nervousness, which can be helpful when trying to perform dental treatment on children and nervous adults.

Are There Any Side Effects of Nitrous Oxide?

There aren’t many side effects associated with nitrous oxide, but there are a few.

A common side effect is nausea. This can be a problem if you must be awake for several hours after being treated. If you have a procedure that lasts longer than a few minutes, your dentist might give you a small dose of painkillers before giving you the N2O.

Other side effects include minor dizziness, headaches, and even a type of intoxication that feels like a hangover. Nitrous oxide is a very safe and effective method of relieving anxiety. It’s an excellent choice for the proper patient who knows what to expect.


Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective way to minimize pain and anxiety. It’s an easy, effective way to relax patients who would otherwise be too nervous or anxious to undergo dental treatment.

Dental procedures are often uncomfortable, but nitrous oxide is a great way to make them less so. It’s a safe and effective way to quell your fears during dental treatments.

If you are looking for the best cosmetic dentist near you, Lexington Smile Studio is here to help! We set the benchmark for exceptional care by offering family dental services. We offer cosmetic, prosthodontic, implant, periodontic, and laser dentistry. Contact us for a consultation today!


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