Inhalation sedation involves the passage of gases to the cardiovascular system via the lungs. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is the most commonly used inhalation anesthetic in dentistry. Indeed, in dentistry, inhalation sedation is synonymous with the use of nitrous oxide/oxygen. Nitrous oxide/oxygen has a long history of safety and in providing conscious sedation to the anxious patient. Although nitrous oxide/oxygen has some analgesic properties, it is not intended as a substitute to local anesthetics.
Advantages of Nitrous Oxide
Nitrous oxide/oxygen and other inhalation drugs reach their destination by moving from a high pressure to a low pressure system. Because nitrous oxide is a relatively insoluble gas and does not break down in the body, it is readily available to reach its site of action for peak effect within minutes. The same property allows fast elimination of the drug from the body once the pressure gradient is reversed, thus providing for quick recovery. Rapid onset can be achieved with intravenous conscious sedation; however, the recovery is delayed.