Laughing Gas: A Patient's Guide

Posted on: 28 January 2016

You've probably heard of laughing gas – it's that special concoction that dentists sometimes have their patients inhale in order to take the edge off during treatment. If you've never had laughing gas before, you may want to learn a little more before choosing to have it during your next dental procedure. Here's what you need to know:

What is laughing gas?

The technical term for laughing gas is actually nitrous oxide. It is a colorless gas with a slightly sweet taste and smell. It has been used as a sedative since the late 1880s.

How does laughing gas benefit the patient?

Laughing gas helps alleviate pain and also relaxes the patient. It helps make dental procedures that would otherwise be tough to get through more pleasant. When you inhale laughing gas, you will start to feel almost euphoric – everything will be funny and amusing. Suddenly, you won't care that your dentist is injecting an anesthetic into your gums or grinding away at your teeth.

Laughing gas offers several benefits over other sedation options such as oral medications and IV sedation:

  • Laughing gas wears off quickly, so you can drive yourself home from your dental appointment.
  • Your dentist can alter the flow of gas during the procedure, so you don't have to worry about getting too large or small a dose.
  • It's a lot more pleasant to inhale the gas from a comfortable mask than it is to have an IV inserted in your arm.

Are there any side effects to worry about?

Most patients experience no side effects at all. Occasionally, patients begin feeling nauseous when they inhale the gas. However, this feeling typically goes away when the dentist reduces the flow of gas.

What does laughing gas cost?

If you have dental insurance, the cost of laughing gas may or may not be covered. Often, insurance companies cover laughing gas for more major procedures, like tooth extraction or dental implants, but not for less-involved procedures like fillings and crowns. Should you find that you have to pay for laughing gas out-of-pocket, you can expect it to run between $25 and $100. This is more affordable than other sedation options, such as IV sedation, which can cost up to $900.

If you have a fear of the dentist or have to undergo a major dental procedure, laughing gas is a great choice. Talk to a dentist like Eden Prairie Dental Care to learn more about this popular sedation option.