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Demi Moore, High on Dental Care Gas

Sadly, stars are dropping like flies in Tinseltown and prescription medicines seem to be the cause of many of the untimely deaths. Michael could only sleep courtesy of Propofol,  Whitney had Xanax and Heath died from a lethal mix of drugs distributed by his health care providers. The untimely deaths caused by the medications helped put the brand names of those drugs into the regular vernacular and while Demi Moore survived her recent ordeal, she can be accredited with reintroducing nitrous oxide (a favorite tool in dentist’s office) as a recreational drug to the masses.

Demi Moore has been on Hollywood’s A list for years. The beautiful actress started her career with bit parts on soap operas, became an integral member of the 1980’s elite “Brat Pack” and is now one of the highest paid women in the industry. Unfortunately, the actress was hospitalized in early 2012 for what appeared to be a bit too much fun with “whippets,” cartridges of nitrous oxide typically used in the food industry to make whipped cream.  That moment in time closely mimicked Moore’s dramatic portrayal of her character “Jules” Van Patten’s drug binge in St. Elmo’s Fire. However in Hollywood, the truth is stranger than fiction and Moore did not respond well to the gas that has been used in dentistry for decades.

About Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide is a colorless, non-flammable gas that also goes by the names of laughing gas, sweet air and N20. The gas is naturally released by bacteria in soils and oceans and is as old as time itself and is the fourth leading producer of greenhouse gases. Aside from the culinary and anesthetic quality of the gas, it is a powerful fuel used to give race cars a boost.

While the gas may be damaging the ozone and powerful enough to cause a car to speed, it is believed to be safe for human consumption and has been used throughout history for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Nitrous oxide is a sweet tasting gas that can be easily inhaled; the process will result in brief feelings of euphoria. According to 0900-DENTIST, breathing in the gas will result in a “…light, airy feeling” that only lasts as long as the gas is administered.

History of N20

English natural philosopher and chemist Joseph Priestley first synthesized the gas in 1772. Thomas Beddoes and James Watt are accredited with developing the first machine to both produce and allow for the inhalation of the gas. During that time period, experiments were conducted that indicated that the gas provided analgesic effect. However, that use was not implemented for several more decades. Instead, one of the most popular dentist helpers was used as a recreational device courtesy of traveling shows.

One account of a nitrous event was documented in The New York Mirror (April 6, 1844). Medial student Gardener Colton held a massive laughing gas event at the “Broadway Tabernacle” (currently called the Broadway Church of Christ) that attracted thousands of people. Colton earned a tidy sum that day and the monies enticed him to quit school and focus on these types of event as a business model.

It was during one of those demonstrations where an audience member inhaled the gas, crashed into the benches, returned to his seat only to find that only when the gas wore off, he started to feel the pain of his sustained injuries. Dentist Horace Wells was sitting next to the victim and took the opportunity to ask the man about the effects of the gas in relation to his wounds. The conversation revealed that the nitrous also acted as a local anesthesia and Wells was inspired.

Wells was suffering from a toothache and decided that with the help of a dentist, he would act as the guinea pig to test the gas as a way to reduce dental anxiety and dental pain. The dentist administered the gas to Wells and when Horace regained his senses he was tickled pink to find out he had successfully undergone a tooth extraction with minimal discomfort.

After his initial success, Wells continued testing out the gas on patients visiting his dental care facility. After more than a dozen successful cases, Wells demonstrate his discovery at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Sadly, the nitrous oxide failed him that day and his public humiliation of failure forced him to keep it on the down low from that point on.

While Wells buckled under his failure, Colton did not and instead created the “Colton Dental Association,” an organization that promoted the use of nitrous oxide in dentistry. From the launch of the gas for general in 1863, Colton successfully treated thousands of dental patients and sweet relief in the dental care industry was never the same.

Nitrous in Dentistry

Nitrous oxide is now thought to be one of the best tools in a dentist office. The gas can be used as a variety of sedation dentistry for dental anxiety sufferers needing preventative dentistry such as cleanings and exams. Nitrous oxide is typically coupled with more powerful anesthetics in order to make complex oral surgery as pleasant as possible.

Only after a patient is comfortably seated and fully aware of what steps a dentist is taking will the dental care team administer the gas. A patient will have a mask placed over their nose so the nitrous is inhaled in while leaving the mouth and teeth free for the upcoming dental work. Nitrous oxide that has been stored in tanks is connected to the machine and the gas flow is regulated by valves manually adjusted by one of the dental care team. After the dental treatments are complete, the gas flow is stopped and after a few breaths of fresh air a patient will be good to go.

If you have been skipping the dentist for way too long because your fear has made you dread the experience, sedation dentistry fueled by nitrous oxide may be of assistance.

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