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How Does Nitrous Oxide Work?

Nitrous Oxide Sedation on a child

If you have to take your child to the dentist, you would surely be concerned about the dental sedation method used on them – especially if you have a particularly hyper kid. Nitrous oxide is the most popular method used for this purpose.

More commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide helps patients remain calm during their dental procedure by reducing anxiety. But have you ever wondered how this gas works?

Understanding the Process of Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is a chemical compound made up of two molecules of nitrogen and one molecule of oxygen. It is a non-flammable gas that is colorless and odorless. First synthesized in 1722, the gas became famous in 1844 after Horace Wells used it during a tooth extraction to demonstrate the insensitivity to pain. Afterward, it became a common medical anesthetic.

It is unclear how nitrous oxide works precisely to reduce anxiety and make a person feel calm and relaxed. However, the currently accepted theory suggests that it works through regulated ligand-gated ion channels in the body.

The neurotransmitters that send pain signals through the body are affected by these ligand channels. First, the GABAA receptors block these pain signals, which causes an anti-anxiety effect on the body and mind. Afterward, the nitrous oxide causes norepinephrine to be released by the brain. This inhibits the pain signal throughout the body. Additionally, nitrous oxide increases the release of dopamine by stimulating the pathway in the brain.

This whole process causes a feeling of euphoria and may even cause the person to start laughing. Hence, the name laughing gas.  

 

If you’re looking for an excellent pediatric dentist for your kid in Summerfield, Oak Ridge, Forest Valley, or Friendly Acres, visit Piedmont Pediatric Dentistry as soon as possible.

Posted on Dec 27, 2021
Image Credit:

File ID 9214707 | © Yuri Bathan | Dreamstime.com

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