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Why is nitrous oxide used at the dentist?

Why is nitrous oxide used at the dentist?
Why is nitrous oxide used at the dentist?

Does going to the dentist fill you with dread?

If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.

Over 50% of adults in the UK are scared of going to the dentist, with 17% refusing to visit altogether. That’s 1 in every 6 people who are missing regular check-ups and not getting necessary dental treatment when they need it.

These days, there are lots of ways that dentists can help their anxious patients, from sedation to simple distractions.

Here at Bow Lane Dental Group, we offer nitrous oxide – or laughing gas – to our anxious patients, but how exactly can it help?

Our experts here at Bow Lane reveal all you need to know about nitrous oxide and why we use it in this article.

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide – more commonly known as ‘laughing gas’ – is a mild gaseous sedative that effectively manages pain and anxiety levels during dental treatment.

Combining nitrous oxide and oxygen, the gas is administered to patients via nose breathing masks, which enables its sedative effects to get to work almost instantly.

How does gas and air at the dentist work?

When you inhale the gas, it interacts with neurotransmitters and brain receptors to reduce the sensation of pain, as well as your anxiety levels.

It also triggers the release of dopamine – a neurotransmitter that regulates feelings of pleasure and euphoria – making the procedure a much more comfortable experience.

What are the benefits?

There are many reasons why we use nitrous oxide for nervous patients, including:

  • It’s safe to use

Nitrous oxide gas is quickly and easily administered through a breathing mask. Unlike other sedation methods, such as intravenous sedation, there are no needles involved – which is great if you also have a needle phobia.

  • It’s fast acting

The nitrous oxide gas takes effect almost immediately, allowing the sedative and pain-reducing properties to reach the brain and the body quickly, whereas it’d take roughly 30-60 minutes for you to feel the effects of intravenous sedation.

  • Short recovery time

As soon as you stop inhaling the gas, the effects wear off quickly. Nitrous oxide is one of the few sedation methods in which you’ll be able to drive yourself home right after your treatment is complete.

Do you offer nitrous oxide at Bow Lane? 


We’re pleased to be able to offer a variety of different sedation options, including nitrous oxide, for our anxious patients.

At present, James and Zaki (two of our expert dentists) and Brooke (our hygienist) are the only certified clinicians offering nitrous oxide sedation here at Bow Lane – so you can be confident that it’s safe and that you’re in the best hands.

Need more information?

If you’re worried about coming in for your next treatment, there are plenty of ways our team here at Bow Lane can help put your mind at ease.

Whether you want to give nitrous oxide sedation a try, you’d like to chat about intravenous sedation with our in-house anaesthesiologist, or you’d rather go down a different route with some simple distractions – we can help.

To find out more about gas and air at the dentist, our anxiety management techniques or to book a consultation, don’t hesitate to contact our team.

Call 020 7236 3600 to chat with us directly, or email our reception team at and we’ll be in touch with you shortly.

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Bow Lane Dental Group, 2a Bow Lane, London, EC4M 9EE

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020 7236 3600

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