Nitrous Oxide – An Accidental Discovery

Glendale Dentist Serving Phoenix, Scottsdale, Peoria, and nearby areas in Arizona

Modern dentistry has removed the "ouch" from dental procedures. However, in 1799 there wasn't even a word for "anesthesia". When surgery was performed, the doctors of the day actually believed that pain was good - they believed that it helped the body heal faster.

Dental patients the world over can thank a young chemist named Humphry Davy who accidentally discovered nitrous oxide and gave the world its first true anesthetic. The story of Mr. Davy and 18th century medical science is described in the book Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes.

The young Mr. Davy was actually seeking a cure for tuberculosis by experimenting with inhaling different types of gases. Unlike experimentation today which occurs in a lab, he usually experimented on himself and his friends. Nitrous Oxide, he soon discovered, was not a cure for lung diseases but fortunately Humphry Davy had a tooth ache one day while he was experimenting with nitrous oxide and he noticed that the pain temporarily disappeared after inhaling the gas. Mr. Davy wrote an article suggesting that the gas might help patients undergoing surgery but it was another 40 years before the concept of pain-free procedures took hold.

Nitrous Oxide has remained a popular, safe and highly effective anesthetic for dental treatment for many years. While there are more modern forms of dental sedation there is nothing else that enables the patient to recover from the anesthetic effects so quickly.

To ensure that our patients are free from anxiety and discomfort while undergoing treatment, Desert Smiles offers a wide range of anesthetics and sedation dentistry. If you have questions regarding your options for anxiety-free dentistry in Glendale, Peoria, Scottsdale and the greater Phoenix area, please contact us today.