The Benefits and Safety of Medical Nitrous Oxide
What is Medical Nitrous Oxide?
Contrary to popular belief, nitrous oxide is not the same as nitrogen. Nitrous oxide is a combination of two parts nitrogen and one part oxygen (N20). Nitrous oxide is colorless and is naturally present in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is used in a variety of fields including manufacturing, automotive, industrial and medical.
You may have experienced nitrous oxide before, also referred to as “laughing gas,” when you visited your dentist or doctor. Dentists use it to calm patients who are particularly nervous or anxious before certain procedures. It also helps patients with compromised health and young children. Doctors use it as a mild general anesthetic and may mix it with other anesthetics as an alternative to more potent treatments.
Analgesic machines regulate the precise mixing of nitrous oxide with oxygen for human use. Usually the composition is half oxygen and half nitrous oxide, though it can be adjusted as necessary. Dentists administer the medical nitrous oxide by face mask and the calming effects can be felt in minutes.
Benefits (via American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry)
- Reduces patient anxiety
- Slightly increases pain tolerance
- Reduces gagging reflexes
- Reduces reaction/patient movement during precise procedures
- Allows patients to tolerate longer procedures
- Patients are conscious and aware during the procedure and can communicate normally with medical staff.
Nitrous oxide has been shown to be safely used in the medical world to reduce pain and calm patients. The non-toxic remedy is administered in normal dosages and there is no long-term effect on the body. Nitrous oxide is not combustible and is stored in medical grade gas canisters or tanks. It is safe for both the medical staff and patients.
Since nitrous oxide is minimally metabolized by the human body during a medical procedure, the patient will be exhaling nitrous oxide. To protect doctors and clinic staff, the nitrous oxide delivery system will also collect the patient’s exhaled breath. Procedure rooms are equipped with ventilation systems to keep fresh air flowing into the room. These systems together work to prevent long-term nitrous oxide exposure for medical staff.
Patients are safe due to its non-toxicity, the effects wear off immediately, and there is no impact on mobility or cognitive functions like stronger analgesics. The American Dental Association recommends dentists “deliver 100 percent oxygen to the patients for 5 minutes before removing the mask” after the procedure. This helps remove any remaining nitrous oxide from the patient’s body. No downtime or recovery time is needed for a patient after receiving nitrous oxide and they can resume doing normal activities like driving immediately.
If you are a medical or dental office that uses nitrous oxide, Air Source Industries has you covered for all your nitrous oxide and precision gas mixture needs. We offer next-day delivery of medical grade nitrous oxide (USP) to your medical office or practice in Los Angeles or Orange County. Find out more by contacting our application experts at (562) 426-4017 or get a quote online.