Let’s face it, it’s not so easy for some people to go to the dentist. I hear it all the time …“no offence, I don’t like dentists”…“I really don’t want to be here”…you get the gist of what I’m trying to say.
Fear and more specifically, anxiety can do quite a number on some individuals. We have previously discussed anxiety and how it relates to the dental office in the blogs “Relaxation Techniques for the Anxious Dental Patient “posted on November 11th, 2013 and “Fear and the Dental Office” posted on December 4th, 2011.
In the next series of blogs we will look at the role that Nitrous Oxide aka Laughing Gas plays in reducing fear and anxiety.
Q: What is Nitrous Oxide (N2O)?
A: N2O is a colorless gas which has a pleasant taste and odor. It is used in dentistry to relax people and ‘take the edge off’ so that they can have the dental procedure done. It is rarely used alone. We usually combine it with local anaesthetic to reduce the patient’s perception of pain.
Q: How does N2O work?
A: A small nose piece is placed over the patient’s nose. The patient is instructed to breathe out of their nose only…if they breathe through their mouth, the N2O will not work.
There are two tanks (cylinders) one contains pure oxygen and the other just the nitrous. The patient starts out by breathing 100 % oxygen. In slow increments, nitrous is added to the mixture until the patient feels comfortable. This is usually a 50-50 combination of the two gases.
The desired effect comes pretty quickly…usually in less than five minutes. N2O does not put you to sleep…the patient can still respond to the dentist.
Q: In terms of the effects of the N20, what/how does the patient feel?
A: The patient(s):
1) Speech may be slightly slurred.
2) May respond slower than usual.
3) Will feel relaxed and cooperative I.e., while receiving the injection, you may know that you’re getting it and feel it slightly, but you will not really care …as mentioned previously, the N2O ‘takes the edge off.’
4) Breathing and heart rate are normal.
In closing: N2O will help relieve your anxiety and make your overall dental visit much easier and pleasant to go through… Until next time.
Dr. Robert Axlerad, Brampton Dentist