Local Greenville, SC family dentistry practitioners—such as those at Falls Park Dentistry—are well aware that scores of patients can’t stand the sight of a dentist’s chair. In fact, many patients are absolutely terrified of everything that has to do with dentistry, which they associate with agonizing pain. Such anxiety isn’t exactly helpful to dentists at all.
Luckily, dentists have a useful tool in their arsenal to help calm anxious patients: nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas. First discovered in 1722 by Joseph Priestley (who also happens to be the discoverer of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and even soda pop), nitrous oxide is a colorless gas that tastes and smells good.
However, nitrous oxide’s anesthetic properties weren’t discovered until 1844—this time by a dentist named Dr. Horace Wells. Back when Priestley first identified it, nitrous oxide was only known for its intoxicating effects, which likely gave way to its widely known name. It apparently became known as laughing gas because the psychoactive effects include giddiness and euphoria. To this day, patients report that inhaling nitrous oxide makes them feel relaxed, happy, and even silly.
DentalFearCentral.org clearly describes how it feels to inhale laughing gas within a dental environment. The website quotes Humphrey Davy, a pioneer in nitrous oxide experimentation:
“On the day when the inflammation was the most troublesome, I breathed three large doses of nitrous oxide. The pain always diminished after the first four or five inspirations; the thrilling came on as usual, and uneasiness was for a few minutes swallowed up in pleasure.”
In a typical Greenville, SC family dental setting, breathing nitrous oxide is perfectly harmless. Dentists administer a good balance of laughing gas with oxygen. Patients inhale pure oxygen first before a helping of nitrous oxide is gradually introduced. Once the gas sets in, patients start to feel its well-known effects: tingling in the hands or feet; numbness in the mouth, feet, and hands; light-headedness; and the characteristic feeling of sheer happiness. As soon as the effects kick in, the patient forgets all fears.
Laughing gas is considered as arguably the safest sedative in dentistry, and it’s not hard to see why. In the hands of a skilled dentist, nitrous oxide doesn’t have lingering side effects and is flushed out from the patient’s body right away. The gas allows for a hassle-free dental procedure for pretty much every anxious patient out there.
(Source: Inhalation Sedation (Laughing Gas), DentalFearCentral.org)