How Does Nitrous Oxide Work?

Posted by DR. MARIO LAMAS on Dec 7 2021, 01:25 AM

How Does Nitrous Oxide Work?

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as 'laughing gas', makes you giggle and feel more comfortable. In dentistry, it is used to relieve fear and anxiety in patients.

In this article, our team at Tijuana Dental Studio in Tijuana Baja, California, explains when nitrous oxide is used and its various effects on patients.

Nitrous Oxide Dental Sedation

Nitrous oxide administered intranasally provides minimal to moderate sedation. This means the patient is conscious and able to respond to verbal commands. 

It is normally given to fearful, anxious, or difficult-to-manage patients. Patients with special needs, sensitive gag reflex, and children undergoing lengthy dental procedures can also be administered nitrous oxide.

However, it should not be administered to patients with respiratory diseases, women who are in the first trimester of their pregnancy, people who are undergoing treatment with bleomycin sulfate, and those who have vitamin B12 deficiency.

Techniques of Administration

You should refrain from eating and drinking about 6 hours before the nitrous oxide is administered. The sedation is administered through a mask fitted over your nose and begins and ends with 100% oxygen. You should breathe through the nose rather than the mouth. 

The process involves the introduction of 100% oxygen for 1–2 min, followed by titration of N2O in 10% intervals at a flow rate of 5-6L/min. This is gradually increased until the desired effect is achieved. 

Mechanism of Action

Inhaled nitrous oxide displaces the air in your lungs and deprives the brain and blood of oxygen. This is the time when you may start to giggle. 

Below are some of the common effects of nitrous oxide:

Anti-anxiety Effect

Nitrous oxide increases the efficacy of inhibitory receptors in the brain and inhibits excitatory receptors, thereby relieving anxiety. 

Analgesic Effect

The analgesic action of nitrous oxide is mediated by the activation of opioid receptors in the midbrain. This leads to the modulation of nociceptive pathways through the release of norepinephrine and activation of α2− adrenoceptors in the spinal cord.  

Euphoric Effect

It increases the stimulation of the reward pathway in the brain that, in turn, releases dopamine and produces a euphoric effect.

All of these effects will wear off within 5 minutes after the mask is removed.

To learn more about how nitrous oxide works, call Tijuana Dental Studio at (619) 955-6901 (USA) or (664) 685-6460 (MEX). You can also visit us at Calle Quinta, Zona Centro, Tijuana Baja California, 7974. 

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Calle Quinta , Zona Centro
Tijuana Baja California, 7974

Tijuana Dental Studio

Calle Quinta , Zona Centro

Tel: (619) 955-6901

MON - FRI : 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

SAT : 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

SUN : Closed