Inhalation Sedation Dentistry For Dental Procedures

‘Inhalation Sedation Dentistry’ is one of the most common types of Sedation dentistry used for Dental procedures. In this type of sedation, patients are asked to breathe in a gas called nitrous oxide, inhalation analgesia or laughing gas. The gas aids in depressing the activity of the Central Nervous System (CNS). Mild to moderate level sedation can be achieved through this type of sedation.

Inhalation Dentistry-The Procedure

The gas (Nitrous Oxide) is administered through a small nose hood placed over the patient’s nose through which the gas is delivered into the blood stream. This odorless and colorless gas rapidly mixes with the blood and instantly induces a euphoric feeling. Some patients may also feel light headedness and some auditory and visual effects may also be experienced.

How Does the Gas (Nitrous Oxide) Work?

Nitrous oxide (N2O) or laughing gas in its pure form can safely be administered for only short time periods, because the lack of oxygen in pure nitrous oxide can lead to unconsciousness and even death. The gas can safely be administered for longer time periods if it is mixed with oxygen (O2). The inhalation analgesia used in modern sedation dentistry is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide (N2O-O2). 30% of this mixture accounts for oxygen whereas nitrous oxide accounts for 70% of this mixture.

Depending upon the concentration of the gas used and the duration of administration of laughing gas, patients can experience four levels of sedation including;

  • Level 1: An initial tingling or tickly sensation in the body especially in the legs and arms, or parathesia (a feeling of vibration) followed by,
  • Level  2: Warm sensations (warmth) and
  • Level 3: A feeling of euphoria or well being. Patients may also experience some auditory effects resulting in the dissolution of hearing a constant throbbing like sound.
  • Level 4: At higher levels of sedation, patients may also experience dizziness, nausea and other potentially unpleasant sensations including flashbacks.

Advantages of Inhalation Sedation Dentistry

The main advantages of Inhalation sedation dentistry are as follows;

  • The gas works rapidly. Within 20 seconds of administration, it reaches the brain (Central Nervous System) and its pain killing and relaxation properties develop two or three minutes after the administration.
  • The dosage of the gas (nitrous oxide) can be controlled by the dentist throughout the dental procedure to avoid a roller- coaster effect.
  • In comparison to other techniques used in sedation dentistry that have a fixed duration of action, the gas can be administered for a given time span.
  • The gas wears off quickly, i.e.; recovery time is shorter in comparison to other sedation options. (The gas does not have a hangover effect).
  • With laughing gas, it is relatively easy to give incremental dosage until the desired level is obtained.
  • Inhalation sedation is a very effective method of sedation as the procedure works rapidly and the dosage of the gas and the sedation level can be modified very easily to meet the needs of different individuals.

Risks Involved With Inhalation Sedation Dentistry

The risks involved with inhalation sedation dentistry include;

  • Inhalation dentistry is relatively a safe procedure in comparison to other modalities used in sedation dentistry; however, some people are not comfortable with the effects of nitrous oxide.
  • Some patients may experience mild complications like nausea and unconsciousness but these complications are experienced largely due to the over dosage of nitrous oxide.
  • If your dental procedure is carried out by a qualified and trained dentist there are no real risks associated with Inhalation sedation.

This article was written by Larry D. of Las Vegas Children’s Dentist Dr. Stephen Delisle.