If you need to have a more involved dental procedure, such as an implant placement or wisdom tooth extraction, your dentist is likely to recommend that you're sedated during the procedure. Though there are several types of sedation regularly used in dentistry – including pills, inhaled sedation, and IV sedation, in many cases, inhaled sedation – also known as laughing gas – is the ideal choice. Here are a few reasons you should learn more about dental sedation:
The effects are short-lived.
It only takes a minute or two for the sedation to kick in after you begin inhaling the laughing gas, and you'll be back to normal within a few minutes of ceasing to inhale it. This is a great advantage, since it means you will be able to drive yourself to and from your dentist's appointment. If you were to take an oral sedative, you would not have much control over how long it takes to wear off, and would likely need a ride. Similarly, the effects of IV sedation are longer-lasting, and you'd likely be groggy and a bit "out of it" for the rest of the day afterwards.
It is comfortable to use with no serious side effects.
There are no scary needles or IVs involved. Your dentist just slips a comfortable mask over your nose, and you inhale as usual. Within a few breaths, you will feel happy and relaxed (it's called laughing gas for a reason). Occasionally, patients experience short-lived side effects like tingling in the hands and feet or a feeling of heaviness in the limbs. Nausea may happen on occasion, too. However, these side effects are quite minor, and if they are bothering you too much, your dentist can remove the mask and you'll feel back to normal within about 15 minutes. Often, if you're experiencing side effects, it is because the dentist has given you just a touch too much gas, and lowering the flow of nitrous oxide will keep them from coming back.
The cost of sedation is not always covered by dental insurance, even if your policy does cover the procedure you're having done. If you have to pay for dental sedation out-of-pocket, then laughing gas is a great choice because it typically only costs between $25 and $100. In contrast, oral sedation can cost up to $500, and IV sedation is typically between $500 and $700.
While laughing gas is an ideal sedation option for most people, it is not for absolutely everyone. Depending on your circumstances, your dentist may suggest a different method – but it's certainly worth your while to inquire about laughing gas first.