Nitrous Oxide /Anxiety Reducing Medication
Nitrous oxide has been the primary means of sedation in dentistry for many years. Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective agent for those patients who are moderately anxious in the dental or hygiene chair. It involves the application of a safe mixture of both oxygen and nitrous gas through an aseptic nose piece.
The patient is able to breathe on their own and remain in control of all bodily functions including swallowing, breathing, and talking.
The patient may experience mild amnesia and may actually fall asleep, not remembering all of what happened during their appointment. We never leave patients unattended while on nitrous oxide. For those younger than 18 years of age, we require that an adult companion wait in the receiving room for the patient to complete the appointment. We also offer nitrous oxide to those hygiene patients who request it as long as Dr. Torrey is in the office that day. Nitrous oxide is not a typically covered dental benefit and there is a modest charge for its use.
Here are many advantages to using nitrous oxide
- The depth of sedation can be altered at any time to rapidly increase or decrease the level of sedation.
- There are no long-term after effects.
- Nitrous oxide has the positive side-effect of lowering blood pressure making it a nice adjunct for people with minimally increased blood pressure
- Inhalation sedation is very effective in minimizing gagging.
- It works rapidly as it reaches the brain within 20 seconds. In as little as two to three minutes it’s relaxation and analgesic properties develop.
Reasons to not use Nitrous Oxide
You should not utilize nitrous oxide if you have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Pregnant women should not use nitrous oxide. Although there are no other major contraindications to using nitrous oxide, you may not want to use it if you have emphysema, exotic chest problems, M.S., a cold or other difficulties with breathing. Some patients with extreme claustrophobia also do not tolerate nitrous oxide due to the somewhat restrictive nose delivery system.
It is no surprise that many people fear the dental office and dentistry. It may have originated as a bad childhood experience or a procedure that did not go smoothly. The good news is that it does not have to be that way. Today there are very safe and effective oral medications that can help alleviate those anxieties and fears.
After a careful health history examination, it may be determined that you would be a good candidate for a one or two dose oral medication one hour before, and/or the night prior to a dental procedure. The pill is placed below your tongue and allowed to dissolve into your blood stream providing a profound level of relaxation without any loss of breathing, swallowing, or consciousness. Some people will fall asleep during the dental visit. We carefully monitor all vital signs before, during, and after the procedure and you will always have someone in the room with you. Much of the time patients will have some vague memory of the procedure but will often not remember a great deal.
Ask us if you might benefit from this type of medication.