Answers to 4 Common Questions About Happy Gas

Nitrous oxide, more colloquially known as ‘laughing gas’ or ‘happy gas,’ has become a standard sedation option in many dental offices. However, new patients may mistake portrayals of happy gas in popular media for how they’ll experience this technique.

This misunderstanding can make patients hesitate to take advantage of this option or overlook it altogether. In this blog, we answer four of the most common questions patients have about happy gas.

1. Does Happy Gas Actually Make You Laugh?
For the most part, the idea that happy gas makes you laugh comes from popular media, not from fact. Some patients may be more inclined to laugh while under its influence, but happy gas doesn’t cause uncontrollable laughter.
Instead, patients experience the following sensations:

  • A feeling of floating
  • Euphoria and a general sense of wellbeing
  • Tingling or a feeling of vibration in the arms and legs
  • Physical warmth
  • Sleepiness

Most of these sensations come and go. For example, most patients only experience tingling initially.

Under high levels of sedation, you may also experience some hearing distortion. Some patients report hearing low, electronic noises when under heavy happy gas sedation.

2. Is Happy Gas Safe?
For a significant portion of patients, happy gas represents one of the safest and most effective sedation options. Trained dentists and office staff monitor each patient’s oxygen levels to ensure that the gas does not become concentrated enough to cause harm. Happy gas can even be used on young children.

However, some patients can experience negative side effects, especially if they fall into one of the following categories:

  • Dependency on drugs which may interact with the gas
  • Emphysema
  • First trimester pregnancy
  • History of obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Severe mental health issues, especially emotional disorders
  • Some forms of cancer treatment, including bleomycin sulfate
  • Some respiratory conditions which may affect inhalation

Discuss your medical history with your dentist to determine whether or not happy gas represents a safe and viable option for you.

3. What Advantages Does Happy Gas Sedation Have?
Dentists employ a range of anesthetic and sedation substances, from topical numbing solutions to general anesthesia which results in unconsciousness. Happy gas represents one of the most advantageous pain-relief options available.

Happy gas boasts the following advantages:

  • No Lasting Side Effects-Once your dentist turns off the supply of happy gas, all traces of the gas will leave your body within five minutes, which means you don’t have to worry about loopiness throughout your day.
  • Rapid Application-Happy gas reaches the brain within 20 seconds and reach optimal levels in two to three minutes.
  • Versatile Sedation-With most forms of sedation, the initial dose determines the medication’s effectiveness for the entire session. With happy gas, however, your dentist can adjust the sedation level from minute to minute for optimal sedation.

4. Who Can Undergo Happy Gas Sedation?
Aside from the restrictions listed in section two, most patients qualify for happy gas use when they have significant dental procedures.

Your dentist may recommend happy gas to address any of the following concerns:

  • Dental anxiety or phobia
  • Difficulty following instructions given by dental staff
  • Inability to control muscle movements
  • Overactive gag reflex
  • Restlessness or hyperactivity

The relaxation provided by happy gas helps active children, fearful individuals and special needs patients alike receive the care they need with very little stress or anxiety.

If you suffer from any of the conditions that frequently respond to happy gas, ask your dentist about using this sedation method during your next scheduled treatment. For some basic information on how your dentist may administer happy gas, visit our happy gas sedation service page
Consider relying on happy gas to make your next dental procedure a stress-free experience.

For more information on oral health, dental hygiene and routine dental treatments, browse our blog section.