Nitrous oxide and the inhalation anesthetics

Anesth Prog. 2008 Winter;55(4):124-30; quiz 131-2. doi: 10.2344/0003-3006-55.4.124.


Nitrous oxide is the most commonly used inhalation anesthetic in dentistry and is commonly used in emergency centers and ambulatory surgery centers as well. When used alone, it is incapable of producing general anesthesia reliably, but it may be combined with other inhalation and/or intravenous agents in deep sedative/general anesthetic techniques. However, as a single agent, it has impressive safety and is excellent for providing minimal and moderate sedation for apprehensive dental patients. To gain a full appreciation of the pharmacology, physiologic influences, and proper use of nitrous oxide, one must compare it with other inhalation anesthetics. The purpose of this CE article is to provide an overview of inhalation anesthetics in general and to address nitrous oxide more specifically in comparison.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Dental / methods*
  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / administration & dosage
  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / pharmacology*
  • Conscious Sedation / methods*
  • Contraindications
  • Humans
  • Nitrous Oxide / administration & dosage
  • Nitrous Oxide / pharmacology*


  • Anesthetics, Inhalation
  • Nitrous Oxide