History Of Laughing Gas
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Nitrous oxide, better known as “laughing gas” traces its origins back to the late 1700s, when people in the British upper class used it recreationally. A little bit of nitrous oxide led to euphoria, the urge to laugh (hence the name), and even slight hallucinations.
Fast forward to 1844, when Horace Wells, a dentist practicing in Connecticut, started using it in his dental office. He first practiced on himself (with another dentist extracting one of his teeth), then introduced it to other patients. Not all of Horace Wells’ demonstrations of the use of nitrous oxide were successful, and he became disgraced and eventually quit dentistry.
In 1863, Gardner Quincy Colton started using nitrous oxide in his dental clinics, successfully administering it to more than 25,000 patients. From there, nitrous oxide became the most popular form of anesthetic for dentistry.
Today, we use laughing gas as one of our sedation options, by itself or in conjunction with Novocain.
Laughing gas is the most mild sedative option we offer. Mixed with oxygen, the nitrous oxide is administered through a small mask that fits comfortably over your nose. Laughing gas has a slightly sweet taste and odor. When you receive laughing gas, you’ll be conscious (not asleep), but relaxed. Once the dental procedure is over, you’ll receive pure oxygen through the mask. Once the effects of the laughing gas have worn off, it’s safe to drive and return to your home or work.
At our dental office, we also offer IV sedation and oral sedation, but for many patients with mild dental anxiety, laughing gas is just enough to make them feel more relaxed and comfortable. In fact, some patients even prefer to have laughing gas with cleanings.
Is laughing gas the best sedation option for you? In a free sedation consultation, we can talk about the different sedation options, as well as your dental history and your level of dental anxiety.
For information about laughing gas, or to schedule a free dental consultation, contact one of our dental offices: