Nitrous Oxide Sedation in Bethesda & Chevy Chase, MD

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The Safest, Easiest Way To Relax During Dental Appointments

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

No one looks forward to dental procedures, but modern sedation dentistry options like nitrous oxide can help ease anxiety and discomfort. At Smiles of Chevy Chase in the Greater Washington area, led by Dr. Despina Markogiannakis, we offer nitrous oxide sedation to help patients relax during dental procedures. This safe, effective sedation method allows you to remain conscious while minimizing pain and anxiety. Read on to learn all about nitrous oxide sedation dentistry and how it can improve your next dental visit, or call our Chevy Chase dental office at 301-652-0656.

What Is Nitrous Oxide Sedation?

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas,” is a safe, mild sedative mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask placed over your nose. As you breathe in the laughing gas, it helps you feel more relaxed and calm. Many patients experience a light, floating sensation under nitrous oxide, and may feel like they just “took a little nap” during their appointment.

Nitrous oxide is a type of conscious sedation, so it does not put you to sleep. You remain conscious enough to hear your sedation dentist’s instructions and respond to questions. However, it does induce a state of relaxation (twilight sleep) that can significantly reduce anxiety and discomfort during dental procedures. This makes dental treatments like dental fillings, tooth extractions, root canals, and dental crowns much more pleasant.

Benefits of Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

There are many advantages to choosing nitrous oxide sedation for your dental appointment at Smiles of Chevy Chase. Some of the many benefits of the use of nitrous oxide for sedation dentistry include:

  • Reduces Dental Anxiety: Many people experience fear or anxiety about going to the dentist. Nitrous oxide helps you feel more relaxed and peaceful.
  • Minimizes Pain and Discomfort: While you remain awake, nitrous oxide dulls pain and discomfort during procedures. You may feel some pressure, but little to no pain.
  • Quick Onset and Wear Off: The sedative effects of laughing gas kick in within about five minutes of breathing the gas. Once the mask is removed, the effects wear off within five to 10 minutes.
  • Increased Comfort: Patients report feeling more comfortable, relaxed, and calm during dental treatment with nitrous oxide.
  • Little to No Side Effects: Nitrous oxide is extremely safe with few side effects when administered correctly by a trained professional.
  • Reduces Gag Reflex: Those with a sensitive gag reflex often find nitrous oxide helps minimize this uncomfortable response during dental treatments.
  • No Escort Required: As the effects of laughing gas wear off so quickly after the removal of the mask, you can drive yourself home after the appointment is complete.

Who Qualifies for Nitrous Oxide Sedation?

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous oxide sedation is suitable for most adults and many older children. Good candidates for use of nitrous oxide include:

  • Those with dental anxiety, fear, or phobia.
  • Patients who have sensitive gag reflexes.
  • Anyone wanting a more comfortable, relaxing dental experience.
  • Those who have difficulty getting numb from the local anesthetic.
  • Patients needing extensive dental treatment completed in one longer appointment.

Nitrous oxide can be used alone or along with local anesthetic, depending on your needs for a given procedure. It’s important to discuss all your options with Dr. Markogiannakis at your consultation appointment.

Preparing for Your Nitrous Oxide Sedation Appointment

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Taking a few steps to prepare for your nitrous oxide sedation appointment helps ensure your visit goes smoothly. Some of the steps you should take before sedation dentistry with nitrous oxide include:

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing before undergoing a procedure with laughing gas. Tight collars or belts could feel restrictive and potentially damage you.
  • Remove contact lenses before your appointment so they aren’t irritating or hurting your eyes.
  • Take out any removable dental appliances like dentures or retainers beforehand.
  • Fast for at least eight hours before your appointment time.
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs for at least 24 hours pre-procedure as they may interfere with the sedation.
  • Remove nail polish so Dr. Markogiannakis and our team can monitor oxygen levels.
  • Arrive a few minutes early to complete the paperwork and get comfortable.
  • Take any regular medications as prescribed unless otherwise directed.

What to Expect During Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Dr. Markogiannakis and our team take special care to ensure your nitrous oxide sedation experience is safe and comfortable from start to finish. Here’s a general overview of what to expect:

  1. You'll be taken to a private room where you can relax in a cozy dental chair.
  2. A small mask will be placed over your nose and secured comfortably.
  3. You'll start breathing in a mix of nitrous oxide gas and oxygen.
  4. As you inhale the laughing gas, you'll begin feeling more relaxed within five minutes.
  5. Dr. Markogiannakis and our team will monitor you closely to ensure optimal sedation levels.
  6. The dosage may be adjusted up or down to keep you comfortable.
  7. During the procedure, the mask stays in place so you keep inhaling the gas.
  8. You can breathe normally and speak if needed.
  9. Once finished, your dentist removes the mask, and you'll start awakening from sedation.
  10. In the recovery area, you'll be monitored until the sedation fully wears off.

Recovery from Nitrous Oxide Sedation

The effects of nitrous oxide wear off very quickly once you stop inhaling the gas. Within five to 10 minutes, you'll be back to feeling normal. Most people feel refreshed and energized after using nitrous oxide for sedation. There is no "hangover" feeling like with some other sedatives.

You'll be monitored for a brief period in the recovery room until Dr. Markogiannakis is satisfied you have returned to your normal state. You'll then be free to drive yourself home and resume your usual activities. Most patients feel comfortable returning to work or school right after their dental procedure if laughing gas is used.

Most patients feel a bit mentally fuzzy directly after the procedure. While laughing gas usually wears off quickly, we still recommend avoiding operating hazardous machinery or making any big decisions for the rest of the day. Also, consider having someone drive you to your appointment so you don't have to worry about driving. Otherwise, take a taxi or rideshare home if you don't feel completely back to normal after your appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the dosage for laughing gas determined?

Your sedation dentist customizes the ideal nitrous oxide dosage for each patient based on factors like age, weight, health history, and more. They carefully monitor its effects throughout the procedure to adjust the dosage for optimal sedation.

Does dental insurance cover nitrous oxide?

Many dental insurance plans do cover a portion of the cost of nitrous oxide sedation. Check with your specific insurance provider to understand your benefits. Even without coverage, the additional out-of-pocket expense for nitrous oxide is relatively minimal yet makes a big difference in comfort.

Is nitrous oxide sedation safe?

Yes, when administered by a trained professional, the use of nitrous oxide has an excellent long-term safety record. It’s not harmful to your body like some sedatives when used for dental procedures.

Will I be fully asleep for nitrous oxide sedation?

No, nitrous oxide provides sedation, but you will remain awake and able to respond to touch and verbal cues. You may feel like you slept through parts of the procedure but will not lose full consciousness. Only general anesthesia with an anesthesiologist fully sedates patients.

Improve Your Next Dental Visit with Nitrous Oxide Sedation!

If you experience dental anxiety or want a more relaxing visit, nitrous oxide sedation dentistry can help. Smiles of Chevy Chase provides this safe, effective option to patients in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Somerset, Forest Hills, and surrounding areas. Contact our friendly team at 301-652-0656 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to discussing how nitrous oxide can provide sedation dentistry tailored to your needs!

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