Friday, September 5, 2008

"Laughing Gas" fun facts

Here's some stuff you probably didn't know about the "laughing gas" you get from the dentist. I just finished taking my Nitrous Oxide competency exam and decided to pass along the more interesting trivia to you folks.

  • It was discovered in the late 1770's by Joseph Priestly. In 1779 Sir Humphrey Davey was the first human to inhale it and described it as "very pleasurable" and "euphoric." He was the one who coined the term laughing gas.
  • It wasn't originally used in a medical setting. From 1800-1844 it was mainly used at social gatherings and sideshows for entertainment.

  • In 1844 a dentist named Horace Wells was attending a demonstration. A peculiar incident happened involving a volunteer who inhaled the gas and began freaking out. (Not everybody reacts the same, and some people really don't like it.) Anyway, this guy started running around the room and gashed his leg open. Horace the dentist astutely observed that the man didn't even react to his wound - as though he didn't feel any pain. The next day Horace had his dentist buddy extracted his abscessed tooth using the gas. Horace felt no pain and proclaimed this to be "the greatest discovery ever made."
  • Originally the dentists had difficulty in delivering high concentrations of the gas due to the crude delivery systems available to them. What were these delivery systems? Ox bladders. (Don't click unless you really want to see an ox bladder.)

  • Wells, who is credited with the discovery of anesthesia, became addicted to the laughing gas and committed suicide at age 33.

  • The exact mechanism of nitrous oxide is still unknown.
So there you have it. Personally, I first had laughing gas when I was 17 and absolutely loved it. I told my dentist that if I had known how great it felt, I would have stopped brushing long ago! I also distinctly remember the feeling of having the dental room rotate around me while I was getting my wisdom teeth extracted. The song on the radio was "When I fall in love" and I remember the experience every time I hear that song.

Let me know your thoughts or any funny stories involving laughing gas. Maybe next year I'll give away a free nitrous oxide treatment to the person with the best story. Maybe.


Shaun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaun said...

I have two funny stories involving laughing gas. The first occurred when I was probably 15-16 and Ashlee was 12-13. We were at my Uncle Doug's office and I had finished with everything I needed done, but Ashlee needed a cavity filled. Cue the laughing gas. Ashlee was fine for a minute or two and then all of the sudden her eyes snapped wide open, she babbled something incoherently, wound up, and clocked my uncle in the nose with her fist. I fell off my chair laughing, it gave him a bloody nose and everything (So watch out Hadfield or you might get attacked). The second story comes to me second hand from Brian Conrad, I don't know if you know him, but he was Sarah Conrad's older brother. I guess he was in the chair on the gas and according to witnesses he started slapping his leg. Brian said he was doing this in order to keep it from floating away because that's what it was doing. Finally, he gave up and just started laughing hysterically until the entire office was in the room watching him and also laughing hysterically. In the end they had to take him off the gas because no work was getting done and it was getting hard for Brian to breath because he was laughing so hard.