Anxiolysis Treatment Options

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD

Dental anxiety is very common among our patient population.  It can range from certain dislikes (smells, tastes, or sounds) up to a paralyzing fear of even the anticipation of stepping into the office.  It is our duty as dental health professionals to help you through your anxiety, and there are many ways to achieve a pleasant experience at the dental office.  

For me, it always starts by knowing what triggers your dental anxiety. This allows us to determine what to avoid and possible ways to intervene.  Some ways to manage the anxiety at the dental office include simple distractions to help get your mind away of what we are doing (this usually works great with patients who have minor dislikes.)  But for moderate anxiety, we recommend the use of nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas” or oral sedation.

Nitrous oxide is an excellent adjunct to the treatment since it has proven its efficiency and safety.  It is safe to use in pediatric patients as well as adults. It is administered in a combination with oxygen. The the patient is responsive but relaxed.  The benefit of nitrous oxide is that it does not get stored in the body, so you can keep going on with your day as soon as you get done with your treatment.  

A way to achieve moderate sedation for patients with more severe anxiety is with the oral administration (pill form) of a sedative.  In our office we provide the option of administering a one-time dose of Triazolam (brand name: Halcion) which allows our patients to experience a deeper sedation. Now, comparing it to the nitrous oxide, the moderate sedation requires the presence of a family member or friend who can drive the patient home and follow up the post-operative instructions.  Since the Triazolam does get metabolized in the patient’s system and the effects last even after the dental treatment is completed, it is extremely important this is taken into consideration.

As with any medical protocol, we would determine and let you know if you are a good candidate for any of these anxiolysis treatments.  Never be embarrassed to tell us about your dental anxiety. We are here to help you and we strive to help every one of our patients get the best dental treatment and the best experience in our office.  

If you suffer from dental anxiety and any of these treatment options sound right for you, please speak with your hygienist or dentist at your next visit or call us today 910-497-3200!