Advanced Dental Concepts
1269 Pleasant Grove Blvd. | Suite 100
Roseville, CA. 95747 | 916-786-4865
Nitrous Oxide Controversy
Sacramento, Roseville, Rocklin, Folsom, and Citrus Heights, California
The dentist’s chair is often synonymous with anxiety. Because of this, many practices have been eager to alleviate this anxiety and make patients as comfortable as possible. Sedation dentistry offers different options and degrees for calming patients and combating dental phobia.
A common sedation method
One method of dental sedation is nitrous oxide. For years and years, it has been a leading anxiolytic in dentist’s office. This method provides a greater tolerance to long and involved dental procedures, and makes for an overall more positive experience.
Nitrous oxide is usually administered in a 25 to 50% mixture with oxygen. It is distributed through a small mask that covers your nose. This treatment has been a leading method of sedation dentistry because of its efficiency and relative safety. Dentists and physicians today are realizing the sedation method they once believed to be safe, is not totally harmless.
Dangers of prolonged use
Recent research suggests that excessive or prolonged use of nitrous oxide can interfere with the action of vitamin B-12 and can actually cause damage to your bone marrow and nervous system. Exposures that last less than 30 minutes seem to still be safe. However nitrous oxide exposures that last between 30 minutes and two hours may cause interference with B-12, which changes your methionine synthase activity and can lead to neurological problems such as:
- Feeling of pins and needles in your extremities
- Difficulty controlling bodily movements
- Trouble walking, standing up straight
- Bladder and/or bowel impairment
These conditions have not shown to be permanent with prolonged nitrous exposure. Once methionine synthase activity is inhibited, it will remain so for days but can improve with intramuscular B-12 injections.
Scientists are not certain what length of nitrous exposure will cause significant or permanent interference with DNA synthesis. They believe results will vary from one patient to the next.
If you fall into one of these categories, you should avoid a significant amount of nitrous oxide exposure:
- Pregnant women—nitrous oxide is a known teratogen—an agent that causes structural or developmental abnormalities when exposed to a fetus.
- Vegans who do not take B-12 supplements—although documented cases of vegans with B-12 deficiencies are rare, research suggests that vegans do not get as much B-12 in their diet as those who eat meat (since B-12 is naturally found in foods that come from animals such as fish and meat).
Click here to learn more about Sedation Dentistry Risks
If you live in the Roseville, California area and are interested in safe dental sedation methods, please contact our office today for a sedation dentistry consultation. We can help make your treatment a positive, comfortable experience.