What is nitrous oxide?

Often called “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a colourless gas with a faintly sweet odour at room temperature. It is non-flammable and a naturally occurring gas. It has the compound name “N2O.”

How is nitrous oxide used?

Nitrous oxide is administered through a “nose hood” that propels the gas through tubes and is placed over your nose. You’ll be advised to take some deep breaths through the nose and to avoid breathing through your mouth. The concentration of gas is controlled by a dial on the canister and can be raised and lowered as needed through the dental procedure. Typically, pure oxygen will be administered at the end of the procedure through the tubes.

Nitrous oxide is great for patients who do not require full sedation or sleep dentistry and can be administered at any time during your dental visit. If you require full sedation or sleep dentistry, an anesthesiologist must be present, which will require preparation time before your dental visit.

What are the effects of nitrous oxide? 

It produces a euphoric effect throughout the body, which helps reduce pain and anxiety. The gas reacts with the brain, altering the pain and pleasure receptors. The benefit of nitrous oxide is that its effects are almost instantaneous when starting and stopping. 

How can nitrous oxide benefit you for your dental procedure? 

  • Nitrous oxide could be used at the beginning of the procedure for patients who have a fear of needles
  • Intermittent use can be beneficial for lengthy procedures 
  • Helps to reduce dental anxiety 
  • Calms children who have a fear of the dentist or dental noises 

What are the potential side effects of nitrous oxide?

While nitrous oxide is deemed safe for use in medical settings and has been approved for use by the Canadian Dental Association, there may be adverse reactions in very rare cases. These typically can occur if a patient has eaten food within 4 hours before use or if too high a level of nitrous oxide was administered. However, our dental team is properly trained to administer nitrous oxide in a safe manner. You will be asked multiple times throughout the procedure how you are doing to ensure a smooth experience.

The side effects include nausea, shivering, dizziness, vomiting and excess sweating. Thankfully these side effects are short lasting and will usually go away when nitrous oxide is no longer administered.  

If you have any questions about nitrous oxide, we encourage you to book a consultation with us today.

dentistry by dr sferlazza white logo

Beautiful Smiles Start Here!


3985 Grand Park Dr h, Mississauga, ON L5B 0H8