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Dental anxiety affects a large number of Americans, to the point that going to the dentist becomes an impossible task. However, avoiding the dentist increases your chances of developing tooth decay, gum disease, and other significant health concerns. Instead of risking your oral health, our team suggests looking into sedation dentistry—especially nitrous oxide.

Nitrous oxide was discovered in 1793 by English scientist and clergyman Joseph Priestley. Following Priestley’s discovery, Humphry Davey of the Pneumatic Institute in Bristol, England, coined the term “laughing gas” because nitrous oxide instills a sense of euphoria in its patients. For many years, nitrous oxide was used only for recreational purposes to buoy one’s spirits.

In the early 1840s, Connecticut dentist Dr. Horace Wells discovered that people who received minor injuries while under the influence of nitrous oxide didn’t feel pain until the effects of the gas wore off. After further study, Dr. Wells began administering nitrous oxide to his patients during tooth extractions and other sensitive procedures. Although nitrous oxide didn’t gain national popularity for another 15 years, Dr. Wells is considered the “Discoverer of Anesthesia.”

Today, nitrous oxide is used as a form of sedation dentistry. 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, allowing you to drive home after your appointment.

If it’s time to schedule your six-month appointment or another important procedure, please contact Sweeney Utterback Dentistry at 757.222.3737. Drs. Bruce Utterback and Pia Sweeney provide nitrous oxide for patients who have difficulty feeling at ease in the dental chair. Feel free to speak with them about receiving nitrous oxide to reduce your dental anxiety.