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You may have heard the term “laughing gas,” but do you know where it comes from? Nitrous oxide, a sedative gas, is often referred to as ‘laughing gas” because it calms the body and can produce a “giddy” feeling. When combined with oxygen, nitrous oxide becomes an effective form of sedation dentistry used to cure dental anxiety.

Nitrous oxide was discovered in 1793 by English scientist and clergyman Joseph Priestley, the first known person to isolate and prepare important gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and ammonia. Following Priestley’s discovery, Humphry Davey of the Pneumatic Institute in Bristol, England, coined the term “laughing gas” in reference to the giddy effect it had on users. For many years, nitrous oxide was used only for recreational purposes.

In the early 1840s, Connecticut dentist Dr. Horace Wells noticed that people who received minor injuries while under the influence of laughing gas didn’t notice the pain until the effects of the gas wore off. Dr. Wells began administering nitrous oxide to his patients during sensitive procedures such as tooth extractions.

Nowadays, nitrous oxide is mainly used to reduce dental anxiety during treatment. At Bethaney B. Brenner, DMD, LLC, our skilled dentist fits a small over your nose that will begin the flow of nitrous oxide and oxygen. The fast-acting sedative will make you feel calm and comfortable during your procedure, and the effects wear off quickly once the mask is removed.

If you’re in need of sedation dentistry in Burlington, Connecticut, contact our office at 860-673-7155. Dr. Bethaney B. Brenner may recommend nitrous oxide as a solution to your dental anxiety.