Nitrous oxide sedation is also known as inhalation conscious sedation. The sedation technique has been the primary method, frequently used by dentists over the past century. It is estimated that over 35% of dentists in the US use this form of sedation as their only method to calm and anesthetize patients.
Nitrous oxide is suited for use in dentistry because it possesses several ideal characteristics required of all good anesthetics. It is fast acting upon administration, performs with good effectiveness, has a wide margin for safe dosage and quick recovery time.
The gas is administered through inhalation, so that it can be absorbed through diffusion in the lungs. The nitrous gas is generally blended with pure oxygen at a 2:1 ratio before it reaches the patient. It is eliminated by respiration and has a relatively short half-life of 5 minutes. Most of the gas will be excreted; a very low percentage is actually metabolized by the body.
Once the procedure is complete, the nitrous oxide is eliminated from the mixture and the patient will receive pure oxygen until they feel normal. The relaxation effects are short lived, once the nitrous oxide is removed. After a few minutes, the patient will return to normal function and be capable of driving home from the appointment.
This form of inhalation conscious sedation offers several advantages:
- Good results in treating mild to moderate anxiety
- A quick onset that can be modified moment to moment based on patient needs
- Allows for flexible duration of treatment
- Slight analgesic effects
- Allows patient to drive to and from dental office
One of the biggest advantages to nitrous oxide sedation is its relative safety, and the very few contraindications to its use. Like any other medical procedure, consult your practitioner to find out if the treatment is right for you.
Many times dental procedures can garner more worry and fear than they actually deserve. If you are someone that has avoided dental exams and treatment due to anxiety, consult the professionals at Dr. Ueckert’s office to find out how they can use nitrous oxide to help you get back on the road to good dental health.