Nitrous Oxide: Aka Laughing Gas – Part 4 – Frequently Asked Questions

In this last blog about Nitrous Oxide (N2O), we will look at more of the commonly asked questions concerning this subject matter…Here we go:

Q: Can I go right back to work after receiving N2O?

A: Yes, when the dental procedure is over, the nitrous tank is turned off and the patient inhales 100 % oxygen for at least 5 minutes. This flushes the nitrous out of the patient’s system and they feel back to how they did before the procedure.

Q: If I’m breast feeding, can the N2O affect the milk that I’m giving to my child?

A: There is no effect of N2O on breast milk.

Q: Can N2O be used for any age group?

A: Yes it can.

Q: What if I have asthma? Can I still use N2O?

A: Yes, there is no problem for someone with asthma to receive N2O.

Q: Do insurance plans cover N2O?

A: It depends on the plan that the patient has with the insurance company. We often send estimates to the insurance company before we do the procedure to see if it is covered; this way the patient will have peace of mind.

Q: What is the main side effect of using N2O?

A: If the concentration of N2O is too high or the N2O is not administered properly, the main side effect is nausea or vomiting. We tell the patient to avoid eating or drinking anything for 3-4 hours before the procedure to decrease the likelihood of nausea or vomiting.

Q: Someone told me that they got a rash on their nose due to the nose piece (mask)… that possible?

A: Yes, if one has an allergy to latex then this can happen because the mask is made of this material…but hopefully the patient would have known about any latex allergy before the procedure and mentioned it on their medical history, so any allergic reaction could have been avoided.

Q: Can an individual be given an analgesic (pain killer), after the procedure to help deal with any potential pain?

A: Yes, once the procedure is over, there is no more N2O in the individuals system…they are completely back to how they were before.

Q: Is N2O addictive?

A: Yes, it can be addictive; however only certain people have access to the gas, so patients need not worry about it becoming addictive. If an individual receives N2O for a few consecutive appointments, they will not become addicted to it.

Q: Is there N2O in whipped cream?

A: Yes, companies use a small amount of N2O to get a ‘fluffy’ affect in the cream.

Q: Why is N2O known as ‘laughing gas?’ Does it really make you laugh?

A: N2O is an anaesthetic (pain reliever). Whether or not it makes you laugh, depends on the individual. Some people may laugh or giggle out loud. However, most if not all of the individuals I’ve used it on have not laughed or giggled…it mainly takes the edge off so one can easily get through the procedure.

Q: Does N2O prevent pain?

A: Yes: N2O does not actually block the pain that one may experience from a procedure. It just sends a message to the brain which causes ‘it’ not to realize the pain. The brain will not process the pain as much as if the N2O was not being used.

I hope that this ‘mock’ ‘FAQ’ session has helped to answer any questions that you may have had regarding N2O usage…until next time.

Dr. F. Keshavarz Dentistry

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