Why don’t dentists use nitrous oxide anymore

Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as ‘laughing gas’, has been a staple of the dental profession for decades. The use of this gas allowed dentists to perform treatments that would otherwise be uncomfortable or even unbearable for their patients. But in recent years, the use of nitrous oxide has decreased dramatically and many wonder why. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why dentists no longer use nitrous oxide and how they can still provide an enjoyable and comfortable experience to their patients without it.

What is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a colorless and odorless gas that has a slightly sweet taste. When inhaled, it produces a numbing effect. Nitrous oxide has been used for dental procedures for over 100 years. It is one of the safest and most effective ways to help relieve anxiety and pain during a dental procedure.

Although nitrous oxide is safe, there are some potential side effects. These include:


If you experience any of these side effects, please let your dentist know. In most cases, the side effects can be quickly resolved.


The Pros and Cons of Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is a sedative that has been used by dentists for many years. It is one of the most popular sedatives for dental procedures because it is effective and relatively safe. However, there are some pros and cons to using nitrous oxide that you should be aware of before your next dental appointment.


– Nitrous oxide is very effective at reducing anxiety and helping patients feel more relaxed during dental procedures.

– The effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly, so patients can drive themselves home after their appointment.

– Nitrous oxide is one of the least expensive sedatives available.


– Some people may experience side effects from nitrous oxide, such as headache, dizziness, or nausea.

– Nitrous oxide does not completely eliminate pain, so some patients may still feel discomfort during their procedure.

History of nitrous oxide in dentistry

The use of nitrous oxide in dentistry is thought to date back to the early 1800s, when it was first used as an anesthetic. However, its use as a dental anesthetic did not become widespread until the mid-20th century.

Nitrous oxide was first used in dentistry in 1844 by Horace Wells, a dentist in Hartford, Connecticut. Wells used nitrous oxide to help a patient who was afraid of having a tooth extracted. The patient reported that he did not feel any pain during the procedure.

Nitrous oxide became increasingly popular as a dental anesthetic in the following years. It was especially useful for children, who often found it difficult to sit still during dental procedures.

However, the use of nitrous oxide began to decline in the 1970s and 1980s for several reasons. First, newer and more effective anesthetics were developed that did not have the same side effects as nitrous oxide. Second, some studies suggested that nitrous oxide could be addictive and could cause long-term health problems. Finally, nitrous oxide became less popular because of its association with illegal drug use.

Why nitrous oxide is no longer used

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, was once a popular sedative used by dentists to help ease their patients into a relaxed state during dental procedures. However, nitrous oxide is no longer used by dentists for several reasons.

One reason why nitrous oxide is no longer used is because it can be addictive. Some patients who regularly receive nitrous oxide may start to feel dependent on it in order to feel relaxed during dental procedures. Additionally, nitrous oxide can have some serious side effects if abused, such as dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.

Another reason why nitrous oxide is no longer used is because it doesn’t always work effectively. Some patients may still feel anxious or uncomfortable despite being given nitrous oxide. Additionally, the effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly, which means that dentists would have to constantly administer it throughout the entirety of a procedure – something that is not always practical or possible.

Lastly, newer dental sedatives have been developed that are more effective and have fewer side effects than nitrous oxide. These include oral sedatives like Diazepam (Valium) and Lorazepam (Ativan), as well as intravenous sedatives like Propofol and Midazolam. As such, there is simply no need for dentists to use nitrous oxide anymore when safer and more effective alternatives are available.

Alternatives to Nitrous Oxide

There are many alternatives to nitrous oxide, and each dentist will have their own preference. Some popular alternatives include:

-IV sedation: This method uses medication to help the patient relax during their procedure. It is administered through a small IV in the arm, and the dentist can control the level of sedation throughout the treatment.

-Oral sedation: Similar to IV sedation, this method uses medication to help the patient relax. The medication is taken orally, usually in pill form, and the dentist can adjust the level of sedation as needed.

-Local anesthesia: This numbs a specific area of the mouth so that the patient does not feel any pain during their procedure.

-Nitrous oxide: This is a gas that is inhaled through a mask, and it helps to relax patients during their treatment.

How does it work?

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is a sedative that has been used by dentists for many years. It is inhaled through a mask that is placed over the nose and mouth. The gas relaxes patients and can make them feel dizzy and lightheaded. Some people may even fall asleep while under the influence of nitrous oxide.

Dentists typically use nitrous oxide for procedures that are not too invasive, such as cleaning teeth or taking x-rays. More serious procedures, such as surgery, are usually done without the use of nitrous oxide. This is because nitrous oxide can interfere with anesthesia and other medications that may be needed during these types of procedures.


What are the side effects?

There are a few potential side effects to be aware of when using nitrous oxide. These include:


Are there any alternatives?

The use of nitrous oxide for dental procedures has declined in recent years, but there are still some dentists who use it. There are several reasons why this may be the case.

One reason is that nitrous oxide can be dangerous if not used properly. There have been cases where patients have gone into cardiac arrest after inhaling too much nitrous oxide. This is why many dentists now prefer to use other sedation methods that are considered to be safer.

Another reason why nitrous oxide may not be used as often is because it can cause patients to feel lightheaded and dizzy. This can be a problem for people who have a fear of heights or who are prone to motion sickness.

Some dentists believe that nitrous oxide is not as effective as other sedation methods, such as oral sedatives or intravenous sedation. This is because nitrous oxide does not work for everyone in the same way. Some people may not feel any effects from the gas at all, while others may find that it only provides a mild sense of relaxation.

If you are considering having a dental procedure done, you should ask your dentist if they offer nitrous oxide as a sedation option. If they do not, there are other alternatives available that may be more suitable for you.


It is clear that dentists have stopped using nitrous oxide for the safety of their patients. This gas can cause serious side effects and even death if not used properly, so it is understandable why modern dentists are opting to use other medications instead. At the same time, there are still some instances where Nitrous Oxide can be a useful tool in helping people relax during dental procedures, but these cases should always be discussed with your dentist beforehand. Ultimately, we believe that you should trust your dentist’s judgment when deciding which sedative method is right for you.


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