Tag Archives: Dental Anxiety

Can I Take Xanax Before My Dental Appointment

I am not being melodramatic when I tell you that I am terrified of the dentist. I haven’t gone in years because of that, but now I have a tooth which is in so much pain that I can’t focus or sleep. I know I need to go see a dentist. Half my face is swollen going all the way up to my eyeballs. I’m worried, but my anxiety about going is still strong. Would it be okay if I took a Xanax before my appointment in order to help relax me?


Dear Greta,

A woman grabbing her jaw in pain, in need of emergency dental care

I am sorry for your pain as well as the fear you face when thinking about the dentist. Often, when someone has this level of anxiety, it is a result of experiencing some dental trauma earlier in their life. If you have properly prescribed Xanax, you can take it before your appointment. However, you need to let your dentist know ahead of time that you’ve taken it because it will affect what types of numbing medication he or she can give you.

Because you are in so much pain, and especially because of the swelling you are seeing, I would consider this a dental emergency. It doesn’t sound like you have a regular dentist, given your experiences. So I would do an internet search for someone who sees non-established patients in cases of emergencies. Doing a search for for an emergency dentist will help you find them.

While you are searching, I do think you should look for a sedation dentist. This could solve all of your anxiety issues and you would not even need any Xanax.

Whatever you do, please don’t put off getting the treatment you need here. The swelling that has gone up to your eye means that your infection is spreading. You do not want it to reach your brain. Then a simple tooth infection will become life threatening.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Should I Take My Son to a Sedation Dentist

I’m sort of kicking of myself for how my son’s last dental appointment went. He’s been going to my dentist for all his check ups. This last appointment didn’t go so well. He’s six year old and normally does so well. This time, however, he was a bit fidgety. Our dentist said he had a cavity and mentioned that he could take care of it right then. My son melted down and slid out of the chair and started crying. He didn’t let anyone touch him. Now I’m wondering if I should have not tried to bring him to a sedation dentist. Now I am afraid he’ll never cooperate at the dentist again. Did I ruin his view of the dentist by not planning ahead?

Callie Anne

Dear Callie Anne,

Children in a line smiling

I’m glad you wrote. I don’t think you’ve completely ruined your son. Hindsight is always 20/20 so don’t judge yourself too harshly. You obviously care about your son and have been careful to take care of his oral health. It is equally obvious that your dentist is not used to working with children. Had he been familiar with children, he would not have just sprung a new procedure on your son like that. Children need a little bit of preparation for the unfamiliar.

My suggestion to you is similar to what you’ve already figured out. It would help him adjust back to the dentist by having sedation for this filling. I don’t think he would need anything strong, such as oral conscious sedation. Just some nitrous oxide would be enough to relax him enough to be calm and allow the dentist to do the work.

However, I am also going to suggest you look for another dentist for your son. It does not have to be a pediatric dentist. Instead, you could see a general dentist who is good with children. One way to know if they enjoy children is to ask what age they are first willing to see them. If they first see children around two years old, you can know that they enjoy working with children. If they want to wait until they are around five years old, then I would look for someone else.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Dentist Is Growing Frustrated with Me

I have problems in the dental chair. I don’t know what it is but every time the dentist or hygienist comes at me with something sharp looking, I can’t help but wiggle and sometimes even have trouble breathing. I thought my dentist was understanding. We’d had a couple of appointments where he waited for me to calm down. However, at my third appointment, he said, “You’re an adult and should be able to handle this by now.” I was so embarrassed. I know I’m an adult. I know I should be able to handle this by now. But, I don’t know any solutions. Have you had patients who’ve struggled as I do?


Dear MaryAnne,

Woman resting from dental sedation

I am going to tell you right off the bat that your current dentist is not going to be the best dentist for you. To be frank, he was rude and insensitive to your very real anxiety in the dental chair. Adult or not, many patients are uncomfortable in the dental chair, some so much that they can’t even go and end up only going in for dental emergencies.

I don’t know where you live, but what I would like you to look for someone who considers themself a sedation dentist. Not only will they be compassionate, instead of rude and judgmental, but they also have the tools to give you an anxiety-free/pain-free dental appointment.

What Type of Sedation is Best?

My recommendation is to start with the lowest level of sedation that is useful to you. The lowest level is nitrous oxide, which people used to call laughing gas for the floaty, happy feeling it can give you. This will relax you in the dental chair. A benefit to nitrous is that you can get right back on with your day once your appointment is completed.

For invasive procedures, I recommend oral conscious sedation. This is administered by pill. However, it is so strong that you will need someone to drive you to and from your dental appointment as well as stay with you for a few hours after your procedure until you are lucid and steady on your feet. Most people find they completely sleep through their procedure, leading some to dub it sleep dentistry.

Look for a dentist who offers these options and I think you will find your life changed.
This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Drs. Foreman and Thimessch.

Dentist Cut Me and I Want a Refund?

My last dental appointment was a disaster. I needed a crown on one tooth and a dental filling on another tooth. It was a two-hour procedure that went from bad to worse, he splashed some type of chemical that got in my eye and burned like mad. Then, he cut my lip with a dental tool. As if that was not enough, he then slipped with the dental drill and cut my tongue. In all this, not only did he not once apologize, but he tried to blame me. He said that none of it would have happened if I would have stayed still like I was supposed to. Is there a way to get a refund from this jerk?

Sunny W.

Dear Sunny,

Woman resting from dental sedation

Unfortunately, though he seems to have very poor skills, I don’t think you’ll be able to get a refund…or an apology. A lawsuit would not really be worth your time or money because I don’t think you could demonstrate there has been enough damage to even cover the cost of the suit. The only thing you can do is write a review warning other potential patients about his lack of abilities and consideration. That will make a dent in his business.

As for the wiggling. Even if you were wiggling, he could have stopped and figured out why you were so uncomfortable so the procedure could have continued safely. My suggestion is for your next dentist you look for someone who is a sedation dentist. They can offer you medication that will completely relax you for the duration of your procedure.

Some options are mild, such as nitrous oxide which allows you to get on with your day as soon as the procedure is completed. If you want something stronger, I’d recommend oral conscious sedation. Though it is administered with a pill, it is so strong that you will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment as well as stay with you for several hours after the procedure. You will be loopy and unsteady on your feet.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Can’t Get Numb At Dentist

I have always had a hard time getting numb at the dentist. My last appointment was no different. In fact, I would call it torture. I’m about to give up and just extract all my teeth and get dentures. Before I do that, though, I just wanted to check and see if you have ever encountered this with other patients. If so, did you find a solution for them?


Dear Jason,

Man in pain in need of an emergency dentist

Please don’t extract all of your teeth. Dentures cause more problems than they solve. I do have a solution for you. Many dentists are not aware of the connection between dental anxiety and numbing medication. The higher the anxiety, the less effective the medication. There is something that happens to your metabolism with fear that kicks in and tends to burn off the numbing medication before it has a chance to really work for you.

The key is to make certain the patient is completely relaxed before administering the Novocaine so that it has a chance to really kick in. What you need is a sedation dentist. These dentists are used to working with anxious patients and have medication that can help you relax.

In your case, I am going to suggest you use oral conscious sedation. This is administered by a pill. However, it will relax you so much that you could sleep through your entire procedure.

Patients who’ve used oral conscious sedation have their lives changed and their ability to get their dental care done in a pain-free manner restored. Additionally, because you can sleep, your dentist can get more work done at each sitting.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Twelve Shots to Get Numb?

I recently had a lower second molar extracted. The appointment was a nightmare. First, it took twelve shots for him to get me numb. How he could miss the area that many times is beyond me. Then, I had a bone spur in the area that took the dentist over thirty minutes to get. Now, I seem to have a sharp edge on the extraction site. I’ve sort of lost confidence in this dentist. Can you tell me if this is normal or if I need to have another procedure done to deal with this?


Dear Cassidy,

Woman holding her jaw in pain

I would find it hard to think any dentist would actually miss the spot that many times. The more likely scenario is that you had some dental anxiety going in and, as a result, your body was fighting the local anesthetic.

Unfortunately, not enough dentists currently understand the connection between dental anxiety and the inability to get numb. I am going to recommend for your next appointment where you need any work done you see a sedation dentist. Even just some nitrous oxide will help relax you, which in turn enables the anesthetic to do its work.

For those with a more severe level of anxiety, I recommend oral conscious sedation. While it is administered by a pill, it is so strong that you will need someone to drive you to and from your dental appointment as well as stay with you for a few hours afterward until you are lucid and steady on your feet again. Most people who use oral conscious sedation sleep through their appointment.

As for the bony ridge. sharp edges do show up during the healing process. You don’t notice them at first because your gums are swollen. As the swelling goes down the ridges appear. If it stays a problem, your dentist can clip it.

One thing I want to make sure your dentist addressed is the need to replace that second molar. If you leave the space open, your other teeth can drift or tip into the space, which will throw off your bite. That can lead to painful TMJ Disorder.

If you want the best tooth replacement, I’d look into a dental implant. However, you do have other options.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Wisdom Teeth and Dental Sedation

I have a daughter who is nineteen years old. She needs her wisdom teeth extracted but has terrible dental anxiety. My dentist has always had trouble working with her and is suggesting we take her somewhere that can do the procedure with general anesthesia. That scares me. Is there an alternative for her?


Dear Penny,

Unless there is some highly unusual complication with your daughter’s case, which I doubt, then there will be no need for your daughter to have to do this procedure under general anesthesia.

You mentioned your daughter has always had trouble at the dentist. Many dentists don’t realize the connection between dental anxiety and the inability to stay numb. It causes too many patients distressing dental appointments. The good news is there is a solution.

You need to have her wisdom teeth extracted by a sedation dentist. Specifically, you will want one who offers oral conscious sedation. This is administered by a pill, but is so strong that you will need to drive her to and from her dental appointment as well as stay with her for a few hours until she is lucid and steady on her feet again. With this, she will be so relaxed that she will likely completely sleep through her procedure.

Some more good news for you and her is that she is at the perfect age to have her wisdom teeth removed. The bone is still pliable. Plus, there has not been time for cementum to have accumulated on the roots of the teeth. It should be a fairly easy procedure.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Numbing Medicine Doesn’t Work On My Daughter

My seven-year-old daughter developed a cavity on a back tooth, which is weird because they have sealings. I took her in for them to do the filling and they could not get the numbing medicine to work. She is in agony and ended up thrashing about. He did seven shots to no avail. He finally just sent her home without the tooth dealt with. Where do I go from here?


Dear Maggie,

Little girl smiling in a dental chair

I am sorry you and your daughter had to go through this. It is agony watching our children suffer. The good news is I have a solution. It appears that your current pediatric dentist is not aware of the connection between anxiety and numbing medication.

If a patient is very anxious, it has the effect of metabolizing the numbing medication very quickly. Sometimes so quickly that the patient gets no benefit out of it. I feel this was what happened to your daughter. Traumatic experiences like this are what keep people away from the dentist in adulthood.

Our goals right now for her are two-fold. First, get the cavity dealt with before it blows up into something more substantial or even a dental emergency. Two, give her a positive experience at the dentist so she can feel good about her oral health care.

I want you to find a dentist who is good with children that also offers dental sedation. It doesn’t have to be a pediatric dentist. There are many general dentists who enjoy treating children and are qualified.

Under normal conditions, she would only need some nitrous oxide to relax her. However, after her recent experience, I am concerned that will not be enough. Look for someone who offers oral conscious sedation. It is so strong that she will sleep through her whole procedure. In fact, some people call it sleep dentistry for that reason. She is still conscious. This is not anesthesia. It just completely relaxes her which will allow that numbing medication to do its job.

Be aware that she will still be woozy for a few hours after that procedure. You might want to set her up a little castle on the couch and let her binge watch something like “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” which will entertain her while simultaneously realizing her life isn’t so bad.

As for her sealants. Sometimes those will come off. Make sure you have the dentist check that the others are still intact.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Dr. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Can I get all this work done in one setting?

I’ve got a lot of dental work to get done. I have to get at least four root canal treatments, and I need to have a couple of teeth ground down as TMJ treatment. I also may need to have a dental bridge placed, though my dentist is still considering the best course of action in that case. I also need some dental bonding done on a chip on my front tooth. The problem is that I seriously freak out in the dentist’s chair.

I’d like to get this all done at once. I don’t have much time off of work, and I just want to get it over with. My question is, how much can be done in one sitting?

Frank from Escanaba

Dear Frank,

Time of treatment is determined by the patient’s ability to tolerate treatment. The placement of the teeth that need root canal treatments will affect the amount of time necessary for treatment.

The amount of treatment you need will probably require the services of a sedation dentist. This would have the added benefit of easing your anxiety. If you can’t locate a sedation dentist, or don’t want to go to one, then the length of treatment is largely decided on your ability to tolerate treatment. Your anxiety will probably lessen your ability to spend long hours in the chair, so consider this when you are deciding whether or not to go with a sedation dentist.

If you can’t locate a sedation dentist, you may want to consider going to an endodontist. A specialist will reduce the amount of time you need to spend in treatment.

This blog post created for Lafayette Louisiana cosmetic dentist Dr. Mike Malone.


What if Novocain doesn’t work for me?

I have a problem. The numbing medications used by dentists simply do not work on me like they do on other people. Added to that, I have put off some pretty extensive dental work that needs to be done, and now the thought of having to go through that without adequate pain medication is literally keeping me up at night. Between my aching teeth and the idea of what I am going to have to go through to get them fixed, I am missing a lot of sleep.

I really think the only way I am going to be able to get this done is if I am out cold. Are there dentists out there that will knock you out to get extensive treatments done? I know oral surgeons can put you out for wisdom teeth removal and things like that, but I have never looked into what can be done if pain meds simply don’t work.

Lula in San Francisco

Dear Lula,

Yes, there definitely dentists out there that can help you. They are called sedation dentists, although you will sometimes hear them referred to as “sleep dentists” or their practices called “sleep dentistry”. This is not a technically correct term, as their patients are not actually sleeping.

Most of these dentists use what is called “conscious sedation”. This means that you are not fully unconscious for the procedure, though most people don’t remember anything about the treatment. Conscious sedation medication is usually administered through an oral pill, taken before the appointment. For this reason, if you are undergoing a procedure that involved oral sedation, you must have someone available to drive you to and from your appointment, and you probably will not be able to return to work that day.

We should mention, too, that sometimes the Novocain or other numbing medication is not as effective in patients who have a high level of anxiety. Many dentists have great success using nitrous oxide (also called NO or “laughing gas”) to help their patients relax, and then administering the numbing medication. The really great thing about that is that you don’t have to have someone drive you to and from the appointment. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off very quickly, and have no lingering effects that preclude driving or returning to work.

If you and your dentist talk through all the options and you are still not comfortable, then some dentists are trained to administer general anesthetic. Only you and your dentist can decide what level of intervention is necessary for you to get the treatment you need.

Good luck to you.

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