Our Blog

What is nitrous oxide and is it safe?

December 13th, 2017

Our team at our office understands that the sights, sounds and sensations at a dental office can be unsettling for some patients. One effective technique that we use to comfort you is to offer the gas nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a common anesthetic used during many dental procedures.

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is an oxide of nitrogen which has a slight sweet odor and taste. During medical or dental procedures, the gas is mixed with oxygen then inhaled through a mask that covers your nose. Within minutes, you should feel calm and experience an overall sense relaxation. You will be able to breathe on your own, move your limbs, and be conscious enough to hear and respond to our dentist's questions. The effects of nitrous oxide disappear shortly after the mask is removed and the drug is quickly eliminated from your body.

Is nitrous oxide safe?

Recreational use of nitrous oxide for its euphoric effects can be dangerous, however, the drug is combined with oxygen at dental offices. This ensures oxygen reaches the brain and prevents dangerous side effects or hypoxia. Nitrous oxide inhalation is a safe and effective technique to reduce anxiety, produce analgesia, and enhance effective communication.

Nitrous oxide is non-addictive and non-allergic, however, it may cause nausea in up to ten percent of patients. The drug is not recommended for people with some medical conditions such as chronic pulmonary disease. We recognize that all patients are different and encourage you to talk with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen about whether nitrous oxide would be a good option for you.

Our team wants to help all patients in Jacksonville, FL to overcome dental anxiety, so please, give us a call at our office.

Nitrous Oxide

December 6th, 2017

Nitrous oxide is a gaseous sedative that’s inhaled through a small mask placed over the nose. Often referred to as laughing gas — because of the euphoric effects it produces — nitrous is used in our Jacksonville, FL office for its anesthetic/analgesic properties.

It will make it so you don’t feel the pain of dental treatment or have an experience that some patients may find traumatic.

Nitrous oxide’s use in the dental field dates back to about the mid-1800s, but when it was introduced, practitioners didn't understand the need to add oxygen. These days all nitrous oxide is administered with at least 30% oxygen for safety (so it forms the compound N2O-O2).

If you need any form of dental treatment, Dr. Richard Mullens may find it necessary to administer nitrous oxide. Some of the effects you may experience while you’re sedated include:

  • Lightheadedness, tingling in the arms and legs, followed by a warm or comforting sensation
  • A euphoric feeling or feeling like you are floating
  • Inability to keep your eyes open, so it seems as if you’re asleep

If at any time you feel uncomfortable, irritated, or sick, let Dr. Richard Mullens know, so the percentage of nitrous oxide being used can be adjusted. The effects dissipate quickly once you return to breathing regular air.

It’s best to be informed about all aspects of your dental treatment before you arrive. There are alternatives to nitrous oxide, so if you’re at all concerned, please don’t hesitate to ask questions about other options for sedation.

Analgesic (numbing) injections can often be used locally at the surgical site. We’ll find what works best for your particular case.

What are dental sealants and how do they work?

November 29th, 2017

A dental sealant is a liquid that is applied to the teeth. The sealant hardens and provides a protective coating that is designed to reduce cavities and create a smoother tooth surface. Dental sealants are clear or white; they do not take away from the appearance of teeth. You can think about this treatment as being similar to varnish that protects a wood floor.

Sealants are not the same as fluoride treatments. The application is similar, but sealants are a semi-permanent protective coating. Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff recommend that sealant applications for children begin soon after molars erupt, first molars around the age of six, and second molars around the age of 12.

Simple Application

Having sealants applied is not uncomfortable at all. First, your child's teeth will be cleaned and dried. A gel is applied, which helps the sealant adhere to the tooth, and then is rinsed away. Your child's teeth are dried again and the sealant is applied. A few seconds of exposure to a light source may be used to cure the sealant and make it semi-permanent. Sealants should last for a long time, normally between five and ten years.

Sealant Benefits

The coating on the surface of your child's teeth reduces the amount of acid contact. Normal acids in foods that are consumed can eat away at the surface of teeth. Bacteria also react to plaque formation and create more acid in the mouth. These small pits or weakened areas are prone to caries or cavity formation. Preventing cavities is a much better choice than drilling and filling damaged teeth.

A sealant also helps to smooth the chewing surfaces of your childn't teeth. The smoother surface is not as likely to retain small particles of food and bacteria. Your child's mouth stays cleaner and food is not left behind to form acids. The protective application can also be used on other teeth that have a rough surface, to protect the grooves or pits from decay.

After the sealant is applied, your child still needs to take proper care of his or her teeth. Regular brushing and flossing is required. Dr. Richard Mullens may recommend fluoride treatments to strengthen and protect your child's teeth further.

If you have any concerns about sealants, please discuss them with during your child's next appointment at our office. We want your little one's teeth to stay healthy for life.

Are dental X-rays safe?

November 22nd, 2017

YES! X-rays have been used in dentistry for a long time, and the amount of radiation has significantly decreased with advances in technology. While there is risk in every health diagnostic procedure at our office, the benefits must outweigh the risks. Dental X-rays do indeed fall into this category.

X-rays are exposed to a type of film to produce an image. The amount of X-rays required to produce this image differs with film speeds. Speed E or F is highly recommended, and digital X-rays require up to 50% less than speed E or F film. The digital X-ray software can adjust the exposure to produce a quality image. Digital X-rays are becoming a new standard and are most common.

Lead aprons have been used to reduce the amount of scatter radiation. All X-ray units have a cone to focus the X-ray beam so the exposure is highly localized. Lead aprons continue to be worn as a precaution for pregnant women, and a thyroid collar should also be worn. In most cases, this is sewn into the lead apron.

We get radiation exposure from environmental factors as well as healthcare diagnostic and treatment tools. To place this in perspective, in one year a person is expected to have 360mRem per year from the sun, air etc. By comparison, a single set of bitewing X-rays is 0.3mRem. Radiation can accumulate in our body over a lifetime, and additional exposure should be avoided whenever possible.