Exposure to nitrous oxide and neurologic disease among dental professionals

Anesth Analg. 1981 May;60(5):297-301.


Questionnaires, mailed to approximately 30,000 dentists and an equal number of dental assistants requesting information regarding professional exposure to anesthetics and health problems, showed an increased incidence of neurologic complaints in dental professionals who worked with nitrous oxide. The most striking differences were noted in individuals reporting symptoms of numbness, tingling, and/or muscle weakness. For dentists heavily exposed to nitrous oxide, the rate of these complaints was 4-fold greater than for nonanesthetic-exposed dentists. For dental assistants heavily exposed to nitrous oxide, a 3-fold increase in these same complaints was noted. In view of recent evidence that nitrous oxide abuse may lead to polyneuropathy, the results suggest that occupational exposure to nitrous oxide by both dentists and dental assistants may be associated with similar neuropathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, Dental / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesia, Inhalation / adverse effects*
  • Dental Assistants*
  • Dentists*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Nitrous Oxide / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Nitrous Oxide