The benefits of nitrous oxide sedation

Nitrous oxide sedation is a form of conscious sedation, otherwise known as relative analgesia. Here’s what you need to know about how it can be used to help your patients and support your dental practice.

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a colourless, slightly sweet-smelling gas used for sedation dentistry. When used together with oxygen by trained health professionals like dentists, it can induce a state of depressed consciousness in which patients are able to maintain protective reflexes and respond to verbal commands or light touch.

Nitrous oxide Is the least toxic of the inhalational anaesthetic agents. It has been used in dentistry for over 150 years and is the most used inhalation anaesthetic in dentistry worldwide.

How does nitrous oxide sedation work?

Nitrous oxide, when administered with oxygen, is a safe and effective way of managing the pain and anxiety associated with dental procedures. It is easily administered through a breathing mask.

Exactly how it produces sedative and pain-relieving effects is still unclear, although it is possibly related to effects on neurotransmitters and receptors.

It is known that inhaled nitrous oxide quickly enters the bloodstream as a free gas and doesn’t combine with any blood elements. It is removed rapidly from the body by exhalation.

At least 30% oxygen must be administered with nitrous oxide at all times. Five minutes of oxygen after sedation is often referred to extra patient oxygen flush. This helps clear any remaining nitrous oxide, so patients regain alertness. Once fully alert, patients are usually able to drive themselves home.

Nitrous oxide was first discovered in 1772 by English clergyman, political theorist, and physical scientist Joseph Priestley.

How could nitrous oxide sedation help my patients?

Because it relieves pain and has a sedative effect, using nitrous oxide sedation can mean anxious patients are able to have much-needed dental work. 

Nitrous oxide sedation may be suitable for patients who:

  • fear needles and are nervous about having a local anaesthetic injection
  • avoid dental treatment because of a prior bad experience 
  • require oral surgery or major dental work
  • suffer significant dental anxiety or phobia
  • are afraid of medical environments 

Nitrous oxide sedation can be especially useful for children’s dental treatments.

Nitrous oxide was first used in surgical and dental anaesthesia in the mid-1800s.

The benefits of nitrous oxide for dentists

Having nitrous oxide available for sedation in your clinic has clear benefits for you and your practice.  When patients are calm and relaxed, procedures will usually be faster and easier to perform. 

Patients who have a pleasant, and relaxed experience at the dentist are also likely to be happy with their treatment and more compliant with regular dental care. They are also more likely to recommend you to their friends, family and colleagues.

Nitrous oxide is relatively easy to administer and has a diversity of uses, being suitable for a wide range of dental procedures – from a simple check up to more complex surgeries.

Sedation with nitrous oxide gives you a high level of control, too. You can easily control the concentration given to your patients and terminate sedation fast if needed. The effects of sedation can quickly be reversed by stopping the administration and flushing your patient with oxygen.

Having nitrous oxide available for sedation in your clinic also allows you to treat a wider range of patients, including those who are anxious, fear needles or have had a difficult experience and are dental-phobic. It is also ideal for paediatric dentistry.

Nitrous oxide is the most commonly used inhalation anaesthetic in dentistry.

How can Air Liquide Healthcare help me?

Air Liquide Healthcare are leaders in the relative analgesia field with more than 25 years’ market presence. Since 2010, we have supported ASDA nitrous oxide sedation training for more than 500 dentists.

We can help you with:

  • initial set up of relative analgesia equipment, including mixers, wall mountings, regulators, trolleys, cupboards, patient circuits, nasal hoods and masks
  • equipment training in your clinic 
  • supply of medical gases and consumables
  • direct maintenance services in line with Australian Standards

With more than 25 years’ market presence, Air Liquide Healthcare are leaders in the field of relative analgesia. We can help you with everything from setting up your equipment and training you to use it, to providing maintenance according to Australian Standards.

Our more than 300 staff are available to help you find the right products and services for your clinic.