Laughing gas is the most popular sedative that dentists and oral surgeons use to help their patients relax during oral procedures, such as wisdom teeth extractions and root canals. Most people experience anxiety before surgery, which is why most professionals administer laughing gas to help them experience a comfortable and pain-free dentist visit.
Stay tuned to learn about the interesting history of laughing gas.
The Funny History of Laughing Gas
The scientific name for laughing gas is nitrous oxide. It was discovered in 1793 by Joseph Priestley, an English scientist, but was later dubbed “laughing gas” by a chemist named Sir Humphry Davy. You may be surprised to learn this, but laughing gas was mainly used for recreational purposes and in public shows for roughly 40 years. In the 1840s, dentists discovered the efficiency of its use for sedating patients and helping them calm down during oral surgery.
Learn more about how laughing gas works and if it really makes patients laugh below.
How Laughing Gas Works
Dentists and oral surgeons mix nitrous oxide with oxygen to inhale and benefit from its sedative effects without experiencing oxygen deprivation. Oral surgeons deliver this anesthetic using a small mask they place over your nose to inhale it for the duration of your surgery.
This gas can reduce pain and awareness so that you can settle down, but keeps you conscious of being able to communicate with your dentist or oral surgeon. Interestingly, laughing gas interacts with your brain’s neurotransmitters and receptors in the same way as opioids and benzodiazepines.
Yes, Laughing Gas Can Make You Laugh
Nitrous oxide earned its nickname because of how it interacts with the brain’s neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, to make patients feel relaxed and euphoric. Most people do laugh after a dentist administers this sedative, whereas others may feel giddy or lightheaded. Other side effects include tingling in the limbs, mental confusion, and mild hallucinations.
On the flip side, some patients may experience nausea, headaches, fatigue, sweating, and shivering. If you don’t feel comfortable with these potential side effects, ask your dentist or oral surgeon for an alternative sedative.
Preparation Tips for Laughing Gas Sedation
Fortunately, most patients don’t experience the adverse side effects of laughing gas. Before your procedure, you will consult with your oral surgeon to give you instructions on how to prepare best. Generally, dentists and oral surgeons recommend eating a light meal for breakfast to reduce the risk of nausea. Additionally, they will advise you to avoid eating heavy meals three hours before and after your surgery.
Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah is Here for You
Most patients have pleasant experiences with laughing gas, so there’s little to worry about. However, the board-certified oral surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah understand that each patient has different needs.
We specialize in tooth extraction, bone grafting, dental implant insertion, corrective jaw surgery, and more. You can count on us to provide you with a transparent and professional experience with your best interests at heart.
We have offices in South Jordan, Cottonwood Heights, and Tooele. Schedule your free consultation today.