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Understanding Nitrous Oxide

Laughing gas or nitrous oxide is a common gas used in dental procedures. This gas has no colour, smell and shouldn’t cause any irritation. It was discovered in 1772 and soon realized to relieve oral pain when administered before dental procedures.

What it Does

Nitrous oxide relieves pain and often causes a pleasant feeling. After about five minutes of breathing in the gas, you may feel euphoric or just slightly tired. This is probably the reason why it has been referred to as laughing gas. Some people will start to laugh or giggle after breathing it in.¬†What you are breathing is about 70% oxygen and 30% nitrous oxide. When it enters your lungs and is transported through your body tissues, the nitrous oxide depresses almost all forms of sensation, especially touch, so that you don’t feel pain during dental procedures.


The equipment that your Dentist uses is very simple. The gas travels through a tube to either a nasal hood or a cannula which is then placed over your nose. You can breathe normally and you’ll start to feel the effects within a few minutes.

Your Dentist may recommend using nitrous oxide before performing certain dental procedures which can be painful or uncomfortable. Procedures involving your gums are much less unpleasant with nitrous oxide. Your Dentist can also alter the amount of gas you receive from moment to moment which means that it can be increased or decreased as needed, unlike other forms of painkillers. There’s also no hang-over effect. The gas is eliminated from your body within a few minutes. Overall, nitrous oxide is considered to be very safe.

Make sure to discuss options for pain relief with us at Swan Dental. We can address any concerns you may have, and find the right solution to keep you comfortable.

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