Even though side effects can occur from inhaling nitrous oxide, many who receive the gas don’t have adverse reactions or complications at all.
When side effects do happen, they often occur as the result of inhaling too much of the gas or inhaling the gas too fast.
Common short-term side effects include:
Some people also experience hallucinations or sound distortion after inhaling nitrous oxide.
Oxygen is sometimes administered along with nitrous oxide. If not, you may receive oxygen for about five minutes after your doctor turns off the gas.
Oxygen helps clear any remaining gas from your body. This will help you regain alertness after your procedure. Getting sufficient oxygen may also prevent a headache, which is another possible side effect of laughing gas.
You should be able to drive yourself home after receiving nitrous oxide at a dental appointment. But you’ll need to wait until you’re fully alert. This may take about 15 minutes, according to the California Dental Association.
To prepare your body for nitrous oxide, eat light meals before you receive the gas. This can prevent nausea and vomiting. Also, avoid heavy meals for at least three hours after receiving the gas.
Be alert to signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction after inhaling nitrous oxide. They can include:
Get immediate medical help if you have any signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction.
What are potential long-term side effects?
Any side effect from nitrous oxide typically reverses itself quickly. The gas doesn’t appear to cause long-term side effects.
In any event, talk to your dentist if you develop any unusual symptoms after receiving nitrous oxide or if a side effect continues for hours or days after a procedure.
Keep in mind that while nitrous oxide is safe, it’s not recommended for everyone. Based on your medical history, your doctor can determine whether this is an appropriate sedation method for you.
You might not be able to receive nitrous oxide if:
You’re in the first trimester of pregnancy.
You have a history of respiratory illness or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
You have methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency.
You have a cobalamin (vitamin B-12) deficiency.
You have a history of mental health conditions.
You have a history of substance use disorders.
While there are no known long-term side effects, misusing or long-term exposure to the gas in a work environment may cause long-term complications.