How Does Nitrous Oxide Work?

How Does Nitrous Oxide Work?

Have you ever gone to the dentist and been given laughing gas for a procedure? You might remember that it stopped you from feeling any pain when your dentist extracted that tooth.

That’s the power of nitrous oxide, the top inhaled pain reliever across all types of medicine. 


Anesthetic or Analgesic?

Nitrous oxide is both an anesthetic and an analgesic. The difference lies in the amount and how the medical professional administers it.

As an anesthetic, nitrous oxide makes you lose consciousness, along with relieving your pain. As an analgesic, it reduces pain, but not to such an extent that you’ll become unconscious.

Regardless of its application, nitrous oxide is a powerful and fast-acting pain reliever, and dentists often use it in sedation dentistry. It can help people who:

  • Have a low tolerance for pain
  • Have an overactive gag reflex
  • Have sensitive teeth
  • Need extensive dental procedures
  • Have trouble sitting still, including children


Nitrous Oxide and the Brain

Nitrous oxide works differently than numbing agents like novocaine, which work in a localized area. Instead, nitrous oxide works in the brain, carried by your bloodstream. There, it encourages your brain to release natural chemicals like dopamine, sometimes known as a “feel-good” hormone and neurotransmitter. 

While some people say that nitrous oxide deprives your brain of oxygen, this isn’t the case. In fact, nitrous oxide can increase the amount of oxygen your brain receives. However, some medical professionals do mix nitrous oxide with oxygen or administer oxygen after the procedure.

In terms of its reputation as laughing gas, the elation you feel comes from the brain’s chemical release. 


Oakwood Can Help

If you’re interested in sedation dentistry on Staten Island, Oakwood Dental Arts can make your dental procedure comfortable for you. Call us at (718) 400-9002 or contact us online to request an appointment.