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Inhalation Sedation 

Also known as nitrous oxide, and more commonly referred to as ‘laughing gas’, this sedation technique has been used for a long time, but it is still proving as effective as ever. The ‘laughing gas’ can take effect within just five minutes after inhalation and, just as important, if not more so, after the treatment has been completed the patient will come round extremely quickly following this kind of sedation.

Inhalation sedation, just like other forms of dental sedation, is a straight-forward, effective and safe procedure that allows the large number of people who are nervous and anxious about going to the dentist the chance to have regular or emergency treatment without worrying and being apprehensive about what lies ahead. The solution used is colourless, but has a nice aroma, and it also creates a warm, tingly feeling in patients, so there is nothing to be concerned about on that score.

The technique works by giving patients a combination of gas and air, which is designed to calm them down. What it does is produce a state of depression of the central nervous system, with the result that the body is completely relaxed.

It is a non allergenic and non irritating drug that that can be used for all age groups. It creates a dream like effect and also causes some people to have tingling sensations in their hands.

The process of inhalation sedation

Before a dentist sedates a patient, he/she will always run through the procedure with you to ensure that you know exactly what will be taking place and why. This will also be your time to ask any questions you may have to put your mind at ease. You will be told what sensations to expect and you will also be informed of how long the procedure is likely to last.

After both the patient and the dentist are satisfied with the situation, the sedation process will then begin. First of all a mask is placed on the patient’s face and the gas will then be adjusted as necessary. A mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen will be used and this will be inhaled through a nosepiece.

With all this in place, a dentist will then judge when a patient has had enough sedation and will subsequently set to work on the problem, whatever that might be. The dentist will know exactly when you are sufficiently sedated as you will become completely calm  while at the same time able to respond to instructions and hear what is being said to you. You will always be carefully monitored throughout the dental sedation; your heart rate and blood pressure especially will be watched carefully.

When the dental work has been completed, it is by no means then simply a case of removing the mask from your face and allowing you to come round from the sedation. Instead, the contents in the mask will be decreased, and the drug will be reduced gradually so that you are breathing in oxygen alone. After you have been inhaling oxygen for a few minutes, the mask will then be taken off and you will be left to come round fully in your own time before being allowed to leave. 

Benefits of inhalation sedation

Even though it is not as commonly used as IV sedation, there are still many big advantages of being sedated in this way.

Just like IV sedation, inhalation sedation can take hold extremely quickly, so that the work can be carried out almost immediately.

Another big plus point is the fact that as soon as the supply of gas stops being put through to the mask, the body starts to come round immediately. In addition, there are also no major after effects about which to be concerned.

People with a fear of injections will most definitely want to choose this option of sedation., because, while it does not require the insertion of needles, it nevertheless still offers the same level of sedatives.

What about the downsides?

It has to be said that inhalation sedation is probably not the best choice for people who suffer with severe anxiety issues. The reason for this is that a higher level of sedation may be required in order to keep the patient calm and relaxed.

Patients who suffer from claustrophobia will also shy away from this particular type of sedation. Such people are very fearful of anything which restricts or traps them in any way and consequently they tend to struggle in panic when the mask is placed on their face as it covers their mouth and nose. Therefore, if you are claustrophobic, this is not for you.

Other information 

There are contra indications to inhalation sedation, and these include: MS, chest problems, emphysema, breathing issues and the first trimester of pregnancy.