Laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide, is a colorless and mildly sweet-smelling gas that is administered via a small mask that fits over the nose.
It promotes calmness by slowing down the body’s reaction time, but can it make you feel sleepy?
Calming Effects of Laughing Gas on Patients
By slowing down reaction time, this gas decreases an individual’s awareness and sensations of what is happening during a dental visit. It may reduce anxiety levels, induce relaxation, decrease the gag reflex, and raise the pain threshold. These effects allow procedures that might otherwise be uncomfortable feel tolerable, and even comfortable, while still making it possible for the patient to respond to questions and communicate during the procedure.
Laughing Gas and Sleep
While this gas is specifically designed to help patients remain calm during procedures, it is not intended to induce sleep. Some people may become so relaxed that they doze off, but this is not typical. The nitrous oxide flows through the mask, often paired with oxygen so that it acts quickly, and the effects are usually felt within a few minutes of inhalation. Additionally, after the gas is turned off, it leaves the system within five minutes, making it safe to drive home afterward. If you do fall asleep while breathing in this gas, be sure to allow yourself some extra time for the drowsiness to wear off before attempting to operate a vehicle.
Potential Negative Side Effects of Nitrous Oxide
This gas is generally considered to be the safest form of sedation, and it can even be used on a variety of patients whose medical conditions or diagnoses may preclude them from other forms of sedation. It is worth noting that most people who use this gas experience no negative reactions at all, but there are some potential negative side effects. These include, but are not limited to:
- Mental confusion
- Leg pain and/or numbness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and headache
- Sweating or shivering
Very uncommonly, people may experience hallucinations or sound distortion. Most of the time, these negative effects wear off within a few minutes of the gas being removed. If you experience any of these uncomfortable side effects during your visit, it may be worth chatting with your dental provider about your experience and discussing alternative options for sedation.
It is also possible, though quite rare, to have allergic reactions including fever, chills, hives, wheezing, or difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after inhaling nitrous oxide, seek medical help right away.
Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah is Here for You
Whether you are wondering about using laughing gas for an upcoming procedure or are already pro with nitrous oxide, Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah is here to answer any and all questions you might have. We would love to discuss your oral health and any procedures you might need, including options for sedation. We have offices in South Jordan, Cottonwood Heights, and Tooele, Utah. Schedule a free consultation today.