What is nitrous oxide/oxygen?

Nitrous oxide/oxygen (N2O-O2) is a blend of two gases — oxygen and nitrous oxide. A fitted mask is placed over the nose and, as the patient breathes normally, uptake occurs through the lungs. At the end of treatment, it is eliminated after a short period of breathing oxygen and has no lingering effects.

How will I feel when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen?

You will smell a faint, sweet aroma and experience a sense of well-being and relaxation. Since it may produce a feeling of giddiness or euphoria, it is often called “laughing gas.” Adults and children sometimes report dreaming and their arms and legs may feel “tingly.” It raises the pain threshold and may even make the time appear to pass quickly. If you are worried by the sights, sounds or sensations of dental treatment, he or she may respond more positively with the use of nitrous oxide/oxygen.

How safe is nitrous oxide/oxygen?

Very safe. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry. It is well tolerated. It has a rapid onset, is reversible, can be adjusted in various concentrations and is non-allergenic. You or your child remains fully conscious — keeps all natural reflexes — when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen. You will be capable of responding to a question or request. Nitrous oxide/oxygen may also be used in combination with other sedative agents.

Are there any special instructions for nitrous oxide/oxygen?

First, give yourself or your child little or no food in the two hours preceding the dental visit (occasionally, nausea or vomiting occurs when a child has a full stomach). Second, tell us about any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult, as it may limit the effectiveness of nitrous oxide/oxygen.