Nitrous Oxide: Making a Comeback in Dental

By Michael Civitello

 

Nitrous oxide has been one of the most commonly used analgesics and anxiolytics for over 100 years. With a wide safety margin, fast onset, predictable results, and short duration of effect, nitrous oxide has obvious benefits for any busy dental practice. A relaxed and comfortable patient allows for a more productive procedure (less starting and stopping), longer appointments, and a happier patient after the procedure. In addition to the clear benefits, nitrous oxide can also be a profit center for the practice. How many “tools” in your practice can you say offer all the same benefits as nitrous oxide?

Many dentists have gotten away from using nitrous as frequently in recent years often citing, “My patients don’t ask for it.” Even in today’s world of instant access to information—patients don’t always know what to ask for! Patients need to be educated on what is recommended, whether it’s a treatment plan, service, or something to help make them relax and feel more comfortable. As your patients trusted healthcare professional, they are looking to you to advocate what may be best for them—not only for their oral health—but what will make them have a more pleasant experience. From the other side of the chair, a more relaxed patient will also mean a better experience for you. The more patients you talk to about the benefits of nitrous will result in more patients wanting it during their treatment.

No practice has a 100% case acceptance. A few common reasons for non-acceptance include time, fear and anxiety. Offering nitrous oxide is an excellent way to address all of these objections—improving your case acceptance. If a handful of patients a month (who would have otherwise declined your treatment plan) now accept—what is that positive impact on your practice? Once the patient is in the chair and relaxed, how does working more efficiently (not having to start and stop as often) and performing longer procedures sound?

Some dentists have gotten away from using nitrous because it “gets in the way” and slows them down. New nasal mask options such as the Porter Silhouette™ now alleviate this “pain point.” With the Porter Silhouette™ using nitrous is now easier than ever! How does unobstructed access to the oral cavity, not having to change your ergonomics, improved nitrous delivery and scavenging, and better infection control sound? This is a new product that is getting dentists excited about using nitrous again!

Nitrous oxide can be a profit center for the practice. While cost per use is minimal, patient fees average about $75 around the country (in addition to improving the case acceptance and productivity levels). Often times we have discussions with offices trying to decide between a “portable cart system” vs. a “centrally plumbed system.” A centrally plumbed system does require a larger investment up front but provides substantially larger benefits in the long run:

  • Ergonomics and ease of use: each operatory is set up and ready for use, meaning you will use nitrous more often
  • Cost of use savings: for a 60-minute procedure, you will save approximately $10 per use compared to using a portable system with E cylinders
  • Flexibility and increased value for future sale of the practice (or attracting specialists)

What is the value and positive impact of a satisfied and happy patient? As one of the few tools in your practice that can help increase production, patient satisfaction, and referrals, nitrous oxide should be an essential part of every practice.

If you have not had your existing nitrous system inspected recently, now is the perfect time to schedule a complimentary equipment audit. Make sure your current system is functioning properly and learn about exciting new products (like the Porter Silhouette™). If you don’t have a nitrous system and would like to learn more about what options are available, contact your Burkhart Account Manager. They would be happy to sit down with you and review what options are a perfect fit for your practice.

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