Category Archives: Dental Phobia

Should I Use Nitrous Oxide for Dental Treatment: Pros of NOT Using Nitrous Oxide

1. An extra expense. You almost always have to pay a little extra for the use of nitrous oxide gas. The gas itself is pricey and it does take your dentist a little extra preparation time to administer the gas to you as well. Paying for the gas may be justified for the more difficult procedures or if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while. But it can start to add up if you want to rely on using it for every single procedure.

2. Not everyone responds equally well to the nitrous oxide gas. Although rare, nausea and vomiting can occur when inhaling nitrous oxide gas especially if the dosage or percentage of the nitrous oxide to oxygen is set too high. And not everyone will feel the gas working the same way. Some patients claim that they hardly feel a difference while others feel completely relaxed and at ease with it. Patients such as those with chronic COPD may not be able to function well with reduced levels of oxygen and may not be able to breath comfortably when on nitrous oxide. Should the nitrous oxide interfere with your breathing then have your dentist adjust the dosage and if that still doesn’t resolve your breathing issue then you probably shouldn’t use it.

3. You are still fully aware of your surroundings. While nitrous oxide gas can do a good job of helping most patients relax, it does not actually put you to sleep. Nitrous oxide provides only a minimal level of sedation and relaxes you more than puts you to sleep. This means that you will still hear and feel everything that is going on around you. The drilling, the pulling and the noises will all still be there. So if your goal is to calm down a little bit then the gas should work just fine. But if you can’t handle any noise or feel anything at all during your treatment, then you probably should also look into more definitive deeper sedation alternatives such as IV sedation or general anesthesia.

NEXT >> How to Decide?

Should I Use Nitrous Oxide for Dental Treatment: Pros of Using Nitrous Oxide

Should I be Put to Sleep for Dental Treatment: Pros of Being Put to Sleep (Deep Sedation)

Many of us fear of going to the dentist and a single bad experience can really scar us for a long time. As a result we postpone going to the dentist until we are in pain and can no longer handle it. If this applies to you then you have probably researched your options of being put to sleep during your visit. You may have discovered this is not as easy as you may have thought. There are several methods dentists use to help relieve anxiety in patients.

  • Inhaling nitrous oxide gas
  • Taking an anti-anxiety medication before your appointment
  • Being actually put to sleep also referred to as deep sedation. This can be achieved either through IV Sedation, or conscious sedation, where you are out but still breathing on your own. Or through general anesthesia, or unconscious sedation, where you can’t even breath and the machines have to do it for you.

Now that it is time for you to finally face your fears should you consider being put to sleep? Or are the alternative methods such as nitrous oxide or anti-anxiety medications a more suitable option for you?

Pros of Being Put to Sleep (Deep Sedation)

1. Being put to sleep is the only way you will not feel anything at all. Being put to sleep at the dentist can be achieved by either IV sedation or less often through general anesthesia. With both options you will enter a state of deep sedation where you will remember almost nothing from the procedure. Alternative options to deal with anxiety include nitrous oxide gas or taking an anti-anxiety pill such as diazepam (valium) in advance of your visit. These will provide you with a much lower level of sedation and may be an effective method to relax you but you will still be fully aware of everything that is going on around you. These techniques are not as effective as deep sedation and may not work for the most nervous and fearful patients.

2. You can get a whole bunch of treatment done in one visit. If you are going to be put to sleep then you should be getting quite a bit of dental work done during this visit. Using deep sedation makes sense if you need several complicated wisdom teeth removed or if you require a few dental implants and extractions done at the same time possibly in conjunction with bone grafts or sinus lift procedures. But it makes much less sense to use deep sedation to treat just a single bad tooth or for simpler procedures like a filling or even a root canal treatment. Using nitrous oxide or taking an anti-anxiety pre-medication is probably the better option in these circumstances.

3.  Being put to sleep works well for extremely nervous individuals who can afford it. Being put to sleep may be your only option if you are one of those who is deadly terrified of the dentist. But keep in mind that both IV sedation and general anesthesia are very costly and require lots of workup. Alternative methods of nitrous oxide gas or taking an anti-anxiety medication beforehand cost far less and may get the job done equally well. You might want to consider having a discussion with your dentist first to see which option is going to work best for you before making your final decision.

  • Deep sedation may also be a good option for children who need lots and lots of treatment. If a child requires multiple baby teeth removed or several baby root canals and crowns performed, this is very difficult for most to handle when awake. Putting children through some sort of deeper sleep is a much better option than having them awake and screaming where eventually the dentist can’t complete their work. It will keep children from becoming traumatized from more difficult treatments which could scar them and cause them to avoid the dentist in the future as an adult.
  • Those with advanced mental disabilities, like severe autism or mental retardation, can usually cooperate with an experienced dentist for their easier treatment. But when it comes to the more invasive and difficult dental treatments most will not be able to handle it while awake. These patients might have no choice but to be put to sleep for more difficult treatments and afterwards can go back to being treated while awake again for routine appointments.

NEXT >> Pros of Being Awake

Should I be Put to Sleep for Dental Treatment: How to Decide

Pros of Taking Anti-Anxiety Medications

Taking anti-anxiety medications before seeing your dentist

If you are afraid of the dentist, you may have come across oral sedation as a possible solution. Oral sedation basically refers to taking anti-anxiety medications, also referred to as happy pills, to help relax and better cope with your fear of the dentist. Taking anti-anxiety medications can give you that calm, relaxed feeling you’re looking for.  Taking these pills can take the edge off and help those of you who are deadly afraid of the dentist get through your more difficult appointments.

What are anti-anxiety medications?

Anti-anxiety medications are benzodiazepines drugs. These medications. Benzodiazepines create a calm sensation and produce anti-anxiety and sleep like symptoms. There are several types of anti-anxiety pills which are commonly used by dentists to help reduce anxiety levels. Each drug has its own characteristics and varying onset and duration (half-life).

List of most common benzodiazepines used in dentistry (Click to learn more about each one’s characteristics)

What are the benefits of taking anti-anxiety medications before dental visits?

If you’re planning on taking anti-anxiety medications then you must discuss this with your dentist in advance. Anti-anxiety medications need to be prescribed by your dentist who will also instruct you on how to take them.

Anti-anxiety drug typically need to be taken about 30 minutes to an hour before your appointment to feel the effects. You usually need to take one or two pills, which will cary based on the drug dosage, your body weight and metabolism. Additionally, someone needs to take you back and forth to your appointment since you won’t be allowed to drive afterwards. So if taking such medication sounds like a good option for you, then read on to learn more about the benefits of anti-anxiety medications:

Taking anti-anxiety medications can be very effective

When benzodiazepines work the way they’re supposed to, their effects are wonderful. Taking just one or two pills can really help out nervous patients. The drugs depress receptors in your nervous system which helps reduce anxiety and takes the edge off. Most anxious patients end up feeling relaxed and breeze through their dental appointment.

Taking anti-anxiety medications can also help those who are not as afraid of their dentist. They work very well for getting through more difficult dental appointments such as root canal treatment, teeth extractions and dental implant placement. Additionally, if you haven’t been to the dentist for a long while and expect to need lots of work, then taking benzodiazepines can come in very handy.

Benzodiazepines are easy to administer and require minimal preparation

You only need a prescription to obtain anti-anxiety pills for your next dental appointment. Then all you have to do is take the pills as instructed before your dental appointment. Once the medication has taken effect you’ll feel calm and relaxed and you are now ready to get your treatment started.

There is not much preparation that goes into pre-medicating with benzodiazepines for the dentist. You need to avoid drinking alcohol beforehand. Also, you will require someone to drive you back and forth to your appointment. Keep in mind that you’ll be drowsy so you’re not allowed to drive when under the influence of benzodiazepines.

But there is not much more preparation required aside from this. These pills are safe if taken as instructed. There are minimal risks associated with them when administered within a controlled setting at your dentist’s office.

Inexpensive and easily repeatable

Of all the options dentists offer to help relieve your anxiety, taking anti-anxiety medication is the least expensive one. After all you only need to cover the cost of your medications and that’s about it. Since pre-medication is easy and inexpensive, you can repeat the process again in the future whenever necessary.

Another benefit of taking anti-anxiety medications over full sedation is that it helps you concur your fear of the dentist. Since you’re still awake and aware of your surrounding, you can continue to communicate with your dentist and follow instructions. This eases and expedites your treatment. Additionally it can help you little by little concur your fears. After all you can’t go to sleep for every filling and cleaning appointment you need for the rest of your life. Starting with taking a few anti-anxiety medications can get you the initial boost as you work your way through the fear of the dentist!

NEXT >> Pros of NOT Taking Anti-Anxiety Medications

Should I Take Anti-Anxiety Medications for Dental Treatment: How to Decide