Nitrous oxide gas is also known as laughing gas, and additionally, as sweet air. It can be quite useful to dental patients and has few side effects. It was found by Joseph Priestly in 1744 but was not used in practices until 1844 by Dr. Horace Wells. He saw the drug demonstrated at a carnival and realized that it could have a practical application in the dental offices. He had a colleague experiment on him by removing an infected tooth under the effects of the nitrous oxide gas. After seeing the fabulous results, Dr. Wells chose to implement the drug into his practice.
Currently, there are about a third of American practices that use this option. The patient uses a mask over his nose, and is then told to breathe in the nitrous oxide gas through his nose and out through his mouth. Regulating the breathing affects the dosage as the deeper the patient breathes in, the more he feels the effects. In some cases, there is numbness in the cheeks or gums as well. When the treatment is concluded, the patient is then given regular oxygen for a few minutes which should undo the effects.
Some patients see no benefit from the usage of nitrous oxide gas, and some others have issues that might contraindicate its usage. Besides that though, the low level of side effects coupled with how beneficial the drug is leads it to be commonly used as part of general anesthesia as well. Patients who have any fear of the process or treatment would be well served to speak with their practitioner to see if this is used in the practice.