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Dental Glossary

Nitrous Oxide

Also known as "laughing gas" or "sweet air", was the first general anesthetic discovered; significantly it was discovered by a dentist, Horace Wells. It is a poor general anesthetic by any standards, but carefully administered doses are excellent at lowering patient's anxieties. It also does increase pain tolerance to a measurable degree. It is especially useful in the management of fearful children, for whom it provides a pleasant, fantasy-like state. It is a very safe drug, with no reported allergies, and very few side effects when administered properly. Patients should note that careless dentists often administer nitrous oxide in a "cookbook" fashion, and provide safe but uncomfortably high doses of the drug. Many adults require low doses to relieve anxieties and don't care for the higher amounts. It is not a "truth serum" and people do not misbehave under its effect.