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The Ins and Outs of Nitrous Oxide

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Despite your best efforts to brush, floss and rinse with mouthwash regularly, you may have to undergo some type of dental procedure at some point or another. Feeling a little nervous about an upcoming appointment? Perhaps your dentist will suggest nitrous oxide, which is more commonly referred to as "laughing gas."

Nitrous oxide is a gas that was discovered in 1772, reports DentalFearCentral.org. Dentists mix it with oxygen and deliver it to patients through a small mask that fits over the nose. It's used to help people relax when they're feeling anxious about undergoing a dental procedure, whether it's a root canal, filling or even a cleaning.

The gas won't put you to sleep – in fact, you should be able to hear your dentist asking questions and be able to respond. But you might get a case of the giggles, hence the nickname, as well as a tingling or heavy sensation in your arms and legs. After the first several minutes, you'll feel relaxed and comfortable. The effects of the nitrous oxide wear off soon after the mask is removed, so you won't have to worry about laughing like a crazy person all day!

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