Laughing Gas in Dentistry - What to Know About Nitrous Oxide

What does it feel like to be on laughing gas?

Being on laugh gas will make you feel light, floaty, and relaxed. When taking an appropriate and regulated dose in a dental office, you feel a little happy but NOT euphoric or “high.”

Will I still need to get a shot if I have laughing gas?

Most likely yes, you will still need to get numb before dental treatment. Nitrous oxide or laughing gas will help you relax and increase your body’s pain threshold. This means that it will not directly numb you, but a sensation that you would normally perceive as painful may not trigger a pain response when on laughing gas.

In some cases, for very small dental fillings, the increased pain threshold is enough to allow the dental treatment to be completed without traditional numbing method.

Will my insurance pay for laughing gas?

Although most dentists will submit a billing code to insurance, sadly most insurance plans do not cover laughing gas. This means that the patient will need to cover the cost of laughing gas.

If you would like to know if your insurance covers laughing gas, ask them if “D9230 Analgesia” is a covered service under your plan. Even if it is not covered, it could still be well worth the money to pay a small amount out of pocket for your or your child to have a better dental experience. This code is typically billed every 30 minutes while the laughing gas is turned on.

Can I still go to work after getting laughing gas?

One of my favorite things about laughing gas is that it hits the body quickly and leaves the body quickly. This means we can get the benefits without waiting a long time but also allow it to leave the body quickly when the patient needs to go home.

For a dental appointment that needs laughing gas, you will be able to go home or to work right afterward. If the laughing gas is combined with other medication, you most likely will need someone to drive you home. Please speak with your doctor about medical history and medications to determine the appropriate plan for your treatment. 

Why do some dentists not offer Laughing gas?

When a dentist wants to offer laughing gas, that dentist will need to either have a portable delivery system or a permanent delivery system installed in the office. The portable systems work well and are safe, but they can be bulky and need additional time to set up before an appointment. Permanent med gas delivery systems are expensive and need contractors with special training to install them.

At We Care Dental Care in Roanoke, Dr. Burkitt wants to make sure that a nervous patient would be able to easily access things that make treatment easier, like laughing gas. This is why Dr. Burkitt had a permanent delivery system installed when he first opened his office.

Does it hurt to get laughing gas?

Giving a patient laugh gas is a pain free and easy process. A rubber nose hood is placed over the patient’s nose and they are allowed to breathe oxygen for 5 minutes before the doctor turns on the nitrous oxide. The gas will smell a little bit sweet, and will be left on throughout the procedure. When the dental work is done, the patient will be given an oxygen flush to remove the laughing gas from their system. If a patient is not given this flush, they may get a headache.

What are the side effect of laughing gas?

The most common side effect of laughing gas is nausea. I like to inform my patients that they can eat before their appointment, but it is best to avoid any heavy or greasy foods before coming in for a dental appointment with laughing gas. Properly dosed and administered nitrous oxide is extremely safe and has little to no side effects.

What is the best situation for laughing gas?

This can be a great option for patients who are a little bit nervous about getting dental treatment. It’s also great for children who tend to want to move a lot during treatment. In particular, if a white filling is being placed, it is very important that the area stay dry, or the bond between the filling and the tooth could fail.

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