For anxious patients with dental phobia, routine dental visits are no laughing matter.  Regardless of the reasons, happy gas (also known as laughing gas or nitrous oxide) is regarded as a safe, effective, and easily reversed local sedation method that can drastically decrease feelings of anxiety. A happy gas dentist can even change a patient’s feelings toward dentistry.


What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide, or happy gas, is an odourless, tasteless gas that slows down the body’s reaction time. When administered by a happy gas dentist, it induces a euphoric calm, relieving pain symptoms as well as feelings of anxiety. This form of sleep dentistry, when administered by a skilled dentist or another medical practitioner, has few short-term side effects and no documented long-term side effects.

Chemically speaking, nitrous oxide is nonflammable gas made up of two nitrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule. Nitrogen and oxygen are the most common gases in the air we breathe.


When is happy gas used by a dentist? 

Happy gas is most often used for a patient who experiences nervousness or anxiety during routine dental procedures. Dental phobia or dental anxiety is a common condition that affects approximately 9% to 15% of adults, according to a study done in the US.

Dental anxiety deserves to be taken seriously. Happy gas dentists exist to help patients work through this anxiety with effective sleep dentistry.


What are the symptoms of dental anxiety?

  • You struggle to breathe or panic when instruments or objects are placed in your mouth during a dental visit
  • You experience a building sense of nervousness in the waiting room
  • The thought of visiting a dentist makes you feel sick to your stomach
  • You struggle to sleep the night before a dental appointment
  • The sight of white-coated practice staff or dental instruments increases your anxiety

Sleep dentistry can turn your dental experience into something much more positive. By inducing a relaxed state, sedation dentistry can even redefine how you feel about the dentist and help to reduce or even eliminate dental anxiety.


How do I prepare myself for a dental procedure which involves nitrous oxide?

Eat a light, nutritious meals the day before and the day of your dental procedure. This can help prevent nausea or an upset stomach. Also, avoid eating until approximately four hours after inhaling nitrous oxide.


Is happy gas safe for everyone?

Sedation dentistry is safe for just about everybody. However, you might be unable to receive nitrous oxide if:



  • You have a history of mental health disorders or complications
  • You have a vitamin B12 deficiency
  • You have a history of substance abuse
  • You have a methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency
  • You have a respiratory illness or disease
  • You are in your first trimester of pregnancy


What are the short-term side effects of happy gas?

Most people experience only the pleasurable aspects of nitrous oxide. Some of the common short-term side effects of sedation dentistry include:

  • A sense of comfort and euphoria
  • A tingling in your arms or legs
  • A sense of heaviness in your limbs
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shivering
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

A small minority of patients might experience some vomiting, sound distortions, or hallucinations.


How soon do the effects of happy gas wear off?

The effects of happy gas last as long as you are wearing the dentist’s nitrous oxide mask. When your dentist removes this mask, the effects promptly wear off.


Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to nitrous oxide?

In extremely rare cases, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to happy gas. Your dental team will observe you for symptoms during your entire procedure. If they see any sign of fever or wheezing, they will remove your mask and take every necessary precaution to return you to your normal state as quickly as possible.


Is a happy gas dental procedure right for me?

Sleep dentistry might be right for you if you deal with feelings of dental anxiety. If your lungs are healthy and you are in an emotionally healthy state, then nitrous oxide may be the solution for your dental phobia. By creating positive associations with a dental practice, you might perhaps find that happy gas can help decrease your feelings of dental anxiety in the long-term so you can get the dental care you deserve for improved oral health.


If you have any questions or concerns about a dental procedure involving happy gas or for any of your dental needs, contact Sans Souci Dental via our online contact form or on (02) 8073 9218.

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