Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is a mild sedative commonly used during dental procedures to ease anxiety. But there’s much more you might not have known about this funny-named gas.

When Was it First Used by Dentists?

Nitrous oxide was first discovered in 1772 by Joseph Priestley, an English scientist. It wasn’t commonly used until the early 1800s but mostly for entertainment at social events. Starting in the 1860s, nearly 100 years after it was discovered, dentists began using it as a mild sedative during procedures.

What Else is it Used For?

This naturally occurring gas has many uses. It can be used as a propellant in aerosol cans and to create whipped cream. It’s known as “NOS” for your vehicle’s engine, typically found in race cars. In addition to dental procedures, laughing gas is sometimes used during childbirth or even a heart attack.

Can Kids Use Laughing Gas?

Laughing gas is safe for all ages as the dose is adjusted appropriately for each patient. Kids may ask before their procedure, “Does laughing gas make you laugh?” It doesn’t make everyone laugh but it might. They may also experience the same effects that adults do like lightheadedness and heavy arms and legs.

How Fast Does it Gas Work?

One of the reasons laughing gas is so effective is that it starts working in just a few minutes. Once the nitrous oxide is turned off and you are breathing only oxygen, the effects of the laughing gas wear off quickly as well. Many patients can drive home safely after their appointment.

Is Laughing Gas Safe?

Nitrous oxide occurs naturally in our environment so it’s a safe and effective option for many patients. Some may not be good candidates for this type of sedation, though. Those with certain respiratory or mental illnesses or who are in their first trimester of pregnancy, for example, should discuss sedation options with their dentist.

Can You Be Allergic to It?

Even though nitrous oxide occurs naturally in our environment, it doesn’t occur in the same levels used for sedation. Normal effects like lightheadedness are expected and negative reactions are rare but your dental care team will watch for signs of difficulty breathing, hives, or a fever.

Does Laughing Gas Make You Laugh?

Laughing gas can make you laugh but not in the way you may be thinking. Things may sound more amusing to you than they would normally as the gas lowers your inhibitions. Laughing gas might not make you laugh but it could.

If you are anxious about visiting the dentist, come see us at Smile Time Dental. We offer nitrous oxide as well as other sedation options to help make your experience comfortable. Call (281) 245-0711 to schedule your appointment.

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