Since as early as the 70’s, nitrous oxide sedation has been used all over the dental offices. The substance is used as an analgesic agent that helps calm down the anxious patient, and of course alleviates pain.
General dentists may choose the nitrous oxide sedation for use in their office, but they must learn about the impact that this might have on everything starting from the operator and up to the environment.
The nitrous oxide sedation is administered as a pain and anxiety control strategy for the patient, but the doctor must learn how to use the substance safely and of course effectively.
In 1977, NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) has brought to light a report according to which those workers who are exposed to N2O (Nitrous oxide), will suffer from decreases in mental performance, lower manual dexterity and even be exposed to audiovisual problems.
Later in 1994, there have been alerts going on, and several regulations came up according to which during the administration of the anesthetic gas, exposure to N2O must be reduced or somehow prevented.
Therefore, NIOSH has issued a one page document in which there are outlined several steps that must be taken in order for the protection of the dental health professional/ patient in cases when N2O is used in the office. Moreover, ADA (American Dental Association) also has issued a report called “Nitrous Oxide in the Dental Office”, where there are described many recommendations and tips on how to use the sedation agent very safely and effectively.
Dental health practitioners, who use N2O as a sedation agent, should definitely be acquainted with all the risks that might occur. Moreover, they should be able to distinguish certain signs which are directly associated with exposure to N2O, and also understand very well the health equipment used for N2O sedation. Some of the advantages of using N2O sedation:
- Rapid sedation- less than 20 seconds
- The gas is rapidly and completely eliminated by the body – 3 to 5 minutes maximum
Currently, more than 50% of the dental health professionals in the US can legally administer and monitor Nitrous Oxide sedation.