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Nitrous Oxide for Easing Dental Anxiety

Visits to the dentist have the potential to trigger high levels of anxiety for some people. Dental anxiety and phobia are extremely common issues. It is estimated that up to 9% to 15% of Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear. Dental fears and anxieties are particularly common among children.

It may help to understand that the root of these dental anxieties or phobias are often linked to a fear of pain. Other reasons include embarrassment, feelings of helplessness or loss of control, or negative past experiences. Although there is not a one-size-fits all solution for addressing these challenges, if you or your child struggles with dental fears, it may be good to know there are options available to help ease the stress of your upcoming visit.

One of these options is the use of nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective method of sedating a patient, which helps them to relax during a dental procedure. When dealing with any of the common causes of dental anxiety, the ability to relax can make a significant difference in overcoming those obstacles and allow the patient to experience a successful dental visit. Here are some common questions and answers about nitrous oxide to help you better understand its use and determine if it is a good option for you or your loved one at your next dental visit:

How does Nitrous Oxide Work?

Often known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is a sedative agent mixed with oxygen that is inhaled through a small mask that fits over the patient’s nose. As you inhale through your nose with normal breathing, within a few short minutes you will start to feel its effects.

What Does Nitrous Oxide Feel Like?

When in effect, nitrous oxide causes the patient to feel calm and comfortable as it creates a light-headedness or tingling within the body. Some people say that it makes their arms and legs feel heavy.

Will I Be Conscious While Using Nitrous Oxide?

The use of nitrous oxide does not cause a patient to lose consciousness or fall asleep. In fact, during use a patient can still hear and respond to any requests or directions from the dentist. The benefits, however, are that the patient is able to relax and remain calm during a procedure that under normal circumstances may cause them to be anxious.

How Long Does Nitrous Oxide Work?
The effects of nitrous oxide remain as long as the mask is on and the patient is breathing in the gas. As soon as the mask is removed, the effects of nitrous oxide begin to wear off. Within a few minutes of removing the mask, all effects are gone and the patient recovers all senses as normal.

We at Holman Family Dentistry are here to help you have the best possible experience at our office so that you can receive the best dental care possible. If you think that the use of nitrous oxide is a good option for overcoming the barrier of dental anxiety for you or your child, we would love to talk with you about its use at your next visit.

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