Nitrous Oxide: Do Dental Patients Want Laughing Gas?

June 15, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
Two out of three dentists offer nitrous oxide to their dental patients, but it is no longer as popular as it once was. In this survey by dental marketing resource The Wealthy Dentist, 18% of dentists reported that they never use laughing gas, and another 13% rarely do. Notably, dental specialists are more likely to offer nitrous oxide. sometimes needing more sedation dentistry options.

The cost of nitrous oxide is a dental management factor for many dentists. "It's too cumbersome and hard to work around. If we do, I charge at least $100," said a Minnesota dentist. "I charge for using nitrous," agreed a Washington doctor. "This eliminates those that don't really need it. It is expensive to use, due to the cost of gas and the staff that must be with the patient at all times."

Dental anxiety can be calmed in other ways. "I have found that a modern, comfortable office with soothing music, comfortable environment, a great staff, and a caring dentist beats out the calming effects of nitrous oxide any day!" said an Ohio prosthodontist. "I rarely ever have the need to use nitrous oxide, maybe once every 6 months."

Many dental patients request laughing gas. "I hear from patients that their previous dentist did not offer N2O! So they came to me because I did," said a Texas dentist. "Nitrous should be available in all offices," agreed another. "This is just good customer service. It is not the dentist's decision whether or not a patient needs it. Charge a reasonable fee and it is money in the bank."

Some have safety concerns about nitrous oxide sedation. "I think it's nuts to use nitrous," declared a Washington dentist. "The dentist and staff are breathing it, which has been shown to cause miscarriages and neurological problems, plus, who wants a 'high' dentist?"

Some dentists rave about laughing gas. "I became a re-born believer in nitrous when I had dentistry done in my own mouth," said a Florida dentist. "It was so much easier with the nitrous oxide than without. I even had it plumbed into my new office when it was built several years ago. Whatever we can do to relieve our patients' anxiety also reduces our own and increases our bottom line!"

Nitrous oxide used to be a larger part of dental treatment than it is today. "People don't ask for it as much as they did 20 years ago," observed an Illinois dentist. "Maybe I'm just getting really good at this dentistry thing!"

Sedation dentistry itself makes some doctors uncomfortable. "One of the hardest parts of dentistry is making it look easy. For me not offering nitrous anymore it has become a little easier," said a Massachusetts dentist. "The greatest part of dentistry is the interaction with patients and their families. Nitrous oxide and the latest craze in 'sleep dentistry' limit those interactions."

"Not every dentist is a sedation dentist," said dental consulting expert Jim Du Molin. "That's how it should be. Each doctor has to decide for him or herself what services they like to offer. For some that will include nitrous oxide, and for others it won't."