What You Need to Know About Nitrous Oxide

Does going to the dentist make you or your child nervous? You're not alone; it's estimated that 80% of Americans suffer some level of dental anxiety. Fortunately, there are options that can make going to the dentist less stressful for you or your child. 

At the dental practice of Dr. Padmaja Yalamanchili in Fairfax, Virginia, nitrous oxide is an option for both adult patients who need anxiety relief during general or emergency dentistry, and for our pediatric dental patients who may be nervous about visiting our office.

Nitrous oxide basics

Nitrous oxide is a colorless gas that has a faint, sweet smell. When your dentist gives you nitrous oxide, they mix it with pure oxygen. The gas mixture goes through a tube into a little nose mask or cannula so when you breathe through your nose, you get the effect of the gas.

For most people, nitrous oxide is a great way to feel relaxed in the dental chair. Anxiety can melt away, and so can sensitivity to pressure on your teeth or gums. You might feel so relaxed you feel like giggling or laughing, and this is why nitrous oxide is also known as laughing gas.

Candidates for nitrous oxide

Almost any adult or child who suffers from dental anxiety can benefit from nitrous oxide. Children who have had trouble with their teeth or bad experiences in a dental office can find that nitrous oxide helps them relax and get through their appointment without fear or pain. 

Adults who have had lifelong dental anxiety can also feel better about coming to our office. Knowing that you’ll get relief for your anxiety makes it easier to keep up with your dental appointments and treatment. 

Nitrous oxide safety

Nitrous oxide is considered one of the safest sedation options available. It's been used since the mid 1800s, and is still the favored form of sedation by dental practices today. The most common side effects are mild, and can include:

It's best if you try to avoid eating for three hours before and after your appointment, and directly afterwards. If you can have someone drive you home from the dentist, that's best. If you must drive yourself, your dentist will make sure you recieve pure oxygen for several minutes after your treatment and then have you sit and recover for a short time period before you leave.

Benefits of nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide can give you a feeling of confidence. When you're confident that you can visit the dentist without pain and anxiety, you're more likely to make and keep appointments for preventive dental care. 

Completing two visits a year for an exam and cleaning can help your teeth and gums stay healthy. Dr. Yalamanchili can also spot any signs of gum disease or dental caries (cavities) much more quickly if she is seeing you regularly.

If you or your child have dental anxiety and want to discuss nitrous oxide for your next visit, call Dr. Yalamanchili at our office at 703-213-5313 or book your appointment online today.

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