Nitrous Oxide Analgesia

Nitrous oxide, a sweet smelling gas, is a compound of nitrogen and oxygen. It is inhaled, along with oxygen, through a nasal mask. It is used for patients of all ages. It is also used in a number of dental treatments such as tooth restoration, placement of crowns, or for minor surgical procedures. Nitrous oxide is often used along with local anesthetics and pain medications. It has the effect of raising the discomfort threshold and may even make the time appear to pass quickly.

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Conscious Sedation

Conscious sedation is a minimally invasive technique which will calm you during dental procedures without the risk associated with general anesthesia. A depressed level of consciousness is reached that allows the patient to maintain a patent airway independently and to respond appropriately to verbal commands and physical stimulation. The drugs, doses, and techniques used are not intended to produce loss of consciousness. Such drugs include midazolam (Versed) , diazepam (Valium), and Meperidine (Demerol.)


DON’T drive a car for at least 24 hours. After anesthesia, your reaction may be impaired. Such impairment makes driving a car dangerous to you and to others. It is especially important that you don’t forget to make arrangements for someone else to drive you home from the office.

DON’T operate complex equipment for at least 24 hours. The same logic that applies to driving a car similarly applies to the operation of other equipment. This includes equipment used at home, such as a lawnmower, as well as that which is used on the job, such as a forklift truck.

DON’T make any important decisions or sign any legal documents for the day. The potential for impairment relates not only to physical activities, but to your mental state also. Moreover, the anxiety that frequently accompanies important decisions is to be avoided. The day should be spent resting.

DON’T take any medications unless prescribed by or discussed with your physician. Some medications may adversely interact with anesthetic drugs or chemicals remaining in your body. Included are prescription drugs, such as sleeping pills or tranquilizers, and over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin.

DON’T drink alcohol for at least 24 hours. Alcohol is also considered a drug, meaning that an alcoholic drink has the potential to negatively react with the anesthetic in your system. This includes hard liquor, beer and wine.


DO leave the office accompanied by a responsible adult. This person will ensure that you travel safely, as well as provide immediate care at home. You should continue to have this adult with you for 24 hours after surgery.

DO remain quietly at home for the day and rest. You need rest both because you have received anesthesia, and because you have undergone a surgical procedure – even one that is considered minor. If, after a day, you still do not feel recovered, you may want to continue your rest for an additional day or two. Discuss your planned return to work with your doctor.

DO arrange for someone to care for your small children for the day. Even if given instructions to play peacefully and not overtax you, children sometimes forget such directions or have trouble staying quiet for an entire day. The most predictable course of action is to leave small children and babies in the care of another responsible adult.

DO take liquids first, then slowly progress to a light meal. Heavy foods can be difficult for your system to digest, thereby increasing the chance for discomfort. For your nourishment, start by taking liquids, then eat light foods such as broth or soup, crackers or toast, plain rice, jello and yogurt.

Common Questions

What is dental anxiety and phobia?

Dental anxiety is a specific type of phobia that produces moderate to severe feelings of nervousness and panic. In some cases, dental phobias can be so debilitating that a patient avoids receiving routine checkups and necessary dental work. Phobias related to clinical and dental settings can be managed with relaxation techniques, counseling, and sedation such as the administration of prescription medication or nitrous oxide.

What is conscious sedation for dental work?

Conscious sedation is a form of anesthesia that allows a patient to be able to respond to commands and questions. This type of sedation may be administered via prescription tablets or intravenously depending on the circumstances and the type of treatment a patient requires. While a patient may feel groggy or even sleepy because of the medication’s effects, they are not unconscious as they would be if they were under general anesthesia.
Medications that are sedatives are formulated to relax the central nervous system. This means that they can stop the chemical reactions in the brain that produce intense and lasting feelings of nervousness and panic. Common medications administered are from the benzodiazepine class of drugs.

What is laughing gas?

Laughing gas is a colloquial term for “nitrous oxide”. This gas has been used as a mild anesthetic and sedative for over 100 years in dental and clinical settings. Nitrous oxide is administered through a soft nasal mask and produces warm and comforting feelings that are mildly euphoric and relaxing. This mild form of sedation dentistry takes effect quickly and wears off quickly, allowing patients to drive themselves to and from our office for treatments.

How much does sedation dentistry cost?

The cost of sedation varies depending on the type of sedatives administered. Nitrous oxide is cost effective as are prescription tablets because they come in generic varieties. The cost of oral sedation and “laughing gas” is affordable to those who don’t have dental insurance as well. Sedation dentistry administered intravenously will obviously cost more because it requires constant monitoring and expensive equipment. For questions regarding costs and insurance coverage, speak to a member of our team.