Keeping Anxiety And Pain Under Wraps At The Dentist

Many patients rationally know that their dentist is there to help them, but it can be easy to let nerves get the best of you. Some people fear pain from the anesthetic, while others may fear the sound of the dental drill. Whatever the cause of your anxiety, here are some ways to make your dental visit more comfortable.

Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry has gotten more popular over the years, as it is a good way to relax – or even sleep – through a procedure. You can choose different levels of sedation. For example, your dentist could prescribe anti-anxiety drugs that can be taken orally in tablet form. Or you could be put completely under with anesthesia.

If you are going in for a routine procedure, it's best to try the milder sedatives first, as going under anesthesia has its own risks. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a drug like Valium, which you would then take about half an hour to an hour before your appointment. Even though you won't be going under, you still need a friend or family member to take you home since you will likely be drowsy.

If you don't like the thought of taking a pill or going under anesthesia, you could also opt for nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Nitrous oxide can help you relax, but you won't need to be completely sedated. Besides relaxing you, nitrous oxide is great for pain relief. It's also a great option since patients can recover quickly after using it, and it has few side effects.

Analgesic Options

Some people don't want to be put under — they just dread the pain during and after the procedure. With local anesthetic, you may feel a slight pinch of the gums, but it will kick in quickly and help you avoid pain. Also, remember that your dentist will put a numbing agent on your gums beforehand, so the pinch of the anesthetic needle shouldn't hurt as much.

If you are having a procedure where you will be sore after, like a tooth extraction, ask your general dentist about mild analgesics. Some of these medications, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, are sold over the counter and may be all you need to feel comfortable.

When you are anticipating a very painful procedure, like major oral surgery, you can talk to your dentist about stronger pain relievers. It's very important to make sure you won't have any other drug interactions when taking strong pain relievers. Some of these pain relievers, like codeine and morphine, fall under the class of narcotics. That means that while they can relieve pain, you need to follow your doctor's orders to the letter so that you don't develop a dependence.

Talk with your dentist for more information about how to reduce your anxiety and pain levels. You can also check out a website like to learn more.