Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nitrous Oxide? It's a Gas, and You Can Drive Home

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nitrous Oxide? It's a Gas, and You Can Drive Home

Article excerpt

Dear Tooth Doctors: I'm always nervous when I visit the dentist, and it has been suggested to me that nitrous oxide may make my next visit more pleasant. I'm concerned with how my mind will be affected by the gas. Should I have someone drive me home?

T. P., Grover

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) has been an effective tool for reducing anxiety, and it also raises the pain threshold.

This means that some procedures that might ordinarily cause you discomfort will not do so if nitrous oxide is being administered. In most procedures, the gas is used before local anesthesia is given with a needle.

Nitrous oxide is always given through a complicated machine that guarantees the user at least 30 percent oxygen. Since the air we breathe has only 21 percent oxygen, this machine mixture is oxygen-rich. (That's a warning to kids who fool around with nitrous oxide to get high. DON'T! It's a suffocating gas and misuse could be fatal.)

Depending on the percentage of gas given, a patient may experience relaxation, tingling euphoria and/or hearing distortions. When the dental procedure nears an end, the dentist will gradually increase the amount of oxygen you breathe to 100 percent.

This will flush out any remaining nitrous oxide. Most patients leave the office with a feeling of relaxation and well-being and are perfectly able to drive themselves home.

NOTE: It is well-documented that some women have strong sexual fantasies when under the influence of this gas. We strongly recommend that a third person be present when nitrous oxide is being administered.


The prophet Mohammed stated that teeth should be cleaned before praying. As a result, twigs from the miswak tree have been used for centuries in the Middle East and Asia because of their tooth-cleaning abilities.

Today, studies in Egypt show that the roots and tiny branches of this tree contain an oil that kills bacteria for days after a twig is chewed and used as a toothpick. Miswak oil contains naturally occurring antiseptics and anti-microbial ingredients as well as tannin, which has been proved to reduce gum inflammation and bleeding. …

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