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Probably the most popular and trusted form of dental sedation of all time is nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas. Its discovery was just prior to the signing of the declaration of independence (1776) and it was experimented with and has been used for anesthetic purposes, among other things, ever since.

Medical use of the gas became more prevalent after 1798 when inventor Humphrey Davy promoted its use in surgery, but common use of nitrous oxide in dentistry was more than 50 years away. Doctors of the time, who also performed the dental procedures, preferred the use of ether, which, as a liquid, had multiple advantages over nitrous oxide–mainly that of easy transport. Finally, the mid-1800s saw laughing gas become a mainstay as a general anesthesia, and many practitioners took it up as a reliable form of relief for their patients.

Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless gas that when inhaled is an effective sedative because it produces pleasant feelings in patients so that they may easily relax. Another effect that it produces is a numbing sensation, and used alongside local anesthetics it can greatly reduce discomfort.

The reason dentists widely use laughing gas the world over is because they have found it to be a safe method that works quickly in the system, it has very few side-effects, and its effects can be immediately reversed simply by administering oxygen to the patient. The minority of reported side-effects that have been reported have usually occurred when the patient is given too much. In these cases, the patient reported headache, shivering, sweating, nausea/vomiting, and/or fatigue.

If you’d like more information about dental anesthesia, feel free to call Dr. Bruce Brumm and our team. You can make an appointment at: 858-250-2933, or come by our office in San Diego, California.