Is Nitrous Oxide Addictive?


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Although Nitrous Oxide is not physically addictive, as with many substances, it is possible to develop a compulsion to use it. When used by your dentist, you will not be inhaling 100% Nitrous Oxide; rather a mix of about 30% oxygen so there is virtually no chance of a resulting addiction. Due to the relatively short amount of time the effects of the gas are felt for, recreational users often 'binge' Nitrous Oxide so that the effects will last longer. Whilst Nitrous Oxide won't cause any physical problems, recreational users often have to inhale higher concentrations of 50% or more, this can sometimes lead to a lack of oxygen and resulting damage to the user's brain cells.

Breathing in Nitrous Oxide directly from a pressurised tank can be especially dangerous. The gas in the canister is often kept very cold, so much so that recreational users are at risk of causing frostbite in their lips, noses or even vocal chords. This problem can often be exacerbated by the user being intoxicated by the gas and being unaware of their injuries. The disorientating effects of the gas can often lead to a profound loss of motor control, therefore, it is very unwise to inhale Nitrous Oxide when in a potentially dangerous situation.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »