If nitrous oxide is your first experience with sedation dentistry, you might find the experience to be quite pleasant, as strange as that could sound. The calming, euphoric effects of the gas mean it's also (unwisely) used as a recreational drug. Adverse side effects from nitrous oxide are rare, and this form of sedation is widely used due to its effectiveness and predictability. However, anyone about to receive nitrous oxide for the first time should be aware of the potential for side effects.
Flushed From Your System
These side effects are unlikely to be significant. Unlike many forms of anesthetic, nitrous oxide is flushed from your system as soon as your dental procedure is over. The mixture of the inhalant is simply adjusted, replacing nitrous oxide with nitrogen and oxygen (or rather, breathable air). For some patients, the nitrous oxide is purged from their bodies with no aftereffects.
Grogginess and Disorientation
When aftereffects are present, the immediate impacts are grogginess and disorientation, and you may be temporarily unsteady on your feet. You can generally remain in the dental chair while you wait for this to pass. You may feel groggy, as though you've just woken up, but nitrous oxide doesn't lead to complete sedation—you were in fact awake throughout the procedure.
This grogginess isn't long-lasting, nor is it likely to be all that strong. Unlike stronger forms of sedation, you can drive yourself home after receiving nitrous oxide. When it's flushed from your system, it's eliminated from the body (usually within minutes). As such, you're not considered to be intoxicated. You may wish to briefly remain at the dental clinic until its effects have completely disappeared, just as a matter of caution.
One of the aftereffects of nitrous oxide may not make itself known until later but is quite avoidable. Nausea and vomiting can be side effects. Studies on animals have suggested that nitrous oxide may suppress appetite. Whether this applies to humans is inconclusive, and while you can indulge your appetite (which may quickly return), you should do so carefully. Opt for smaller portions, and you may wish to avoid foods that are particularly rich or spicy. If you should vomit, remember to stay hydrated.
While every precaution is taken when a patient receives sedation, the possible side effects of nitrous oxide are fairly minimal, and won't be experienced by all patients. That being said, it's helpful to know what to expect. If you should be affected by side effects—not to worry; they won't last long, nor will they be all that serious.
For more information about your options for sedation dentistry, contact your dentist.
Up until a year ago, I did my best to keep my teeth and gums clean. But after securing a new job, I began to work late into the night and didn't have the time or energy to brush and floss before I retired to bed. My busy schedule and poor dental hygiene finally affected my teeth and gums. After experiencing severe pain in several of my teeth, I made an appointment with my dentist. My dentist examined my mouth and discovered three large cavities in my molars. After four long weeks, my dentist finally completed my dental work. I learned a very painful lesson during that time. No matter how busy you are, always brush and floss. I started this blog to inform other people about the importance of good dental care. I hope you find the time to read it. Thanks for visiting.