If you have to undergo major dental surgery, your dentist will likely recommend general anesthesia. But what about those middle-of-the-road procedures like tooth extraction and dental implant insertions? Surely, these procedures would be tough to go through without any sort of sedation, but being completely knocked out seems like overkill. Chances are, if you need a moderately involved dental procedure, your dentist will recommend either an oral sedative or laughing gas to help relax you. While oral sedation has its place for patients who cannot inhale laughing gas or have experienced nausea from it in the past, for the vast majority of patients, laughing gas is the better choice. Here's why:
The sedation does not start until you're in the dental chair.
If you opt for an oral sedative like valium, you'll need to take it before you head to the dentist's office so that it has time to start working. There are variations in how long it takes to kick in, so you can't always be certain it will be in full effect by the time the procedure is ready to start. On the other hand, it could kick in early, causing you to feel groggy and strange during the sign-in process and prior to the procedure. You'll certainly need to have someone drive you to your appointment because of this.
With laughing gas, you sit down in the dental chair, inhale through the mask, and almost immediately feel the effects of the gas. There's no preparation required. You can drive yourself to the appointment and be coherent enough to ask the questions you have prior to the procedure.
Your dentist can control the dose easily.
If you take a dose of valium and find that it was not enough (or too much) you're out of luck. However, if your dentist finds that you're not getting quite enough laughing gas, he or she just has to turn up the flow. The effects are almost instant. Similarly, if you're getting too much gas, your dentist can just dial back the flow and increase your coherence. Patients rarely suffer side effects from laughing gas, but if you are feeling nauseous (the only side effect you really have to worry about), your doctor can stop the gas immediately.
Laughing gas wears off almost immediately.
With the busy lives most people lead these days, who wants to take half a day off from work because they're still groggy from a dental procedure? Unlike oral sedatives, laughing gas does not present this issue. Within just a few minutes of having the mask off, you'll feel completely normal again. You'll just have to hang out at the office for a few minutes before you can safely drive home and get on with your day.
If you need to be sedated for an upcoming dental procedure, laughing gas is a safe and effective choice. Talk to your dentist to learn more.