Visitor Question

My son was given an overdose of nitrous oxide at the dentist…

Submitted By: Anonymous (USA)

My son went to the dentist for a filling and was given so much nitrous oxide that his eyes were unable to focus and he couldn’t respond to me. I asked the dental assistant why he couldn’t respond. She turned down the nitrous oxide and got the dentist, who immediately turned OFF the nitrous oxide and turned on the oxygen.

She then moved my son to an upright position and gave him water to drink. The assistant was telling him to hold the cup, but he couldn’t even see where the cup was, so I took it from her and fed him the water myself! After a minute or so he was able to focus and respond to me. He said his head hurt and his stomach felt upset.

Please let me know what I should do about this situation. Does this constitute a lawsuit? Thanks for any information you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Anonymous,

The excess administration of nitrous oxide alone doesn’t constitute the basis of a lawsuit. To constitute a lawsuit your son would have to have been injured from the nitrous oxide.

It appears the dentist, via his assistant, wasn’t monitoring the administration of the nitrous oxide properly. Although the failure to monitor the amount of nitrous oxide was improper, there is a very slight possibility your son was injured. The “hazy” or “confused” state albeit unsettling, doesn’t constitute an “injury.”

Nitrous oxide, also known as N20-02 has been around since the 18th century. It is commonly referred to as “laughing gas.” The machines which administer the nitrous are regulated by the manufacturers to contain at least 30% oxygen. As a result, a patient cannot be deprived of the oxygen necessary to maintain brain function.

Although it is doubtful your son was injured, it would be best for you to take him to his physician for a checkup.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,


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2 thoughts on “My son was given an overdose of nitrous oxide at the dentist…

  1. Joseph Shawa DMD says:

    Actually that 80% was on older machine. Nitrous oxide-oxygen delivery systems are now typically limited to a maximum of 70% nitrous oxide and 30% oxygen delivery; this helps ensure that the patient is receiving at least 9% more oxygen than is found in ambient room air.

  2. Joseph Shawa DMD says:

    The N2O gas does not come out in excess of 80%. The worst that can happen is nausea, vomiting and maybe you pass out. Very much like being intoxicated with blurry vision, lack of coordination, etc and as such some people are more sensitive to it than others.

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