by Dr Emmanuel Sim, Coburg Hill Oral Care, VIC
This anaesthesia system mixes nitrous and oxygen before being channelled to the patient. It’s not for all patients—only those who feel like they are anxious—but clinically are not extremely anxious.
What’s good about it
It really helps patients feel more relaxed and calm, particularly those who are anxious or who have had a previous bad experience with dentistry. If it wasn’t for this system, phobic patients would need a more costly and inconvenient general anaesthetic for their treatment. I’ve used the system during a range of different procedures including wisdom teeth extraction and implant surgery. It could even be used for a scale and clean when dealing with very phobic patients.
The media has popularised laughing gas and most patients are intrigued when we mention the possibility of using it. They are generally very happy and accepting of the option to use it. It’s easy to adjust the mix rate to suit each patient and there is no need for mental calculations. The unit also has a safety feature limiting the maximum setting to 70 per cent nitrous. Most brands of masks and circuits are compatible with the Porter system. Patients recover very quickly and there are no lasting after-effects. They can drive home by themselves after the procedure.
What’s not so good
For the system to work properly, the patient needs to have a positive attitude towards nitrous sedation. If they are suspicious or in a negative frame of mind about the process, then it doesn’t work so well. If the dentist is encouraging and controls the environment, you can achieve very good results.