Author: Dr. Reem Kidess | Posted on with 0 comments
Are you struggling with feeling nervous about seeing the dentist and curious whether there is a medication to help you overcome dental-triggered anxiety? Can a dentist prescribe anxiety medicine to help make your experience at the dentist less traumatic? That is a valid question.
Acute anxiety may be triggered when seeing a dentist or someone is working inside your mouth. Many studies indicate that nearly half of all adults experience some anxiety surrounding dental appointments and procedures. That is a significant number of people!
Like an M.D., becoming a dentist takes many years of training and education. D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine). Dentists are highly educated doctors who specialize in the field of dentistry and are medical professionals skilled in the practice of caring for their patient’s oral health. Does this mean a dentist can prescribe medication for anxiety? The short answer to this question is, “sometimes.
Can a Dentist Write Prescriptions?
Dentists work on one of the most sensitive areas of the body. The mouth.. It is subject to painful conditions such as gingivitis, oral thrush, canker sores, cold sores (from the herpes simplex virus), dental abscesses, caries (cavities), and many other painful conditions. Many of these conditions require advanced dental intervention to relieve the painful condition. Often this includes prescribing medication such as antibiotics and pain medication. When it is appropriate, a dentist can prescribe anxiety medicine.
A Dentist May Prescribe Anxiety Medicine for Dental Anxiety
Dental doctors can write scripts, but this does not mean they can write scripts for every type of medication or to address non-dental related conditions. The condition must be specifically related to your dental work and oral health. For example, a dentist may be able to prescribe “Patient A” an anxiety medication before a dental appointment but would not be able to prescribe this same medication to “Patient B” to ease travel anxiety or “Patient C” for long-term conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder.
What Types of Anxiety Medication Can Dentists Prescribe?
Oral medication may be prescribed before your appointment date, and you’ll have to take your script to the pharmacy before your appointment. The most common type of oral medication a dentist may prescribe is called a benzodiazepine, which includes Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Halcion, and others. Benzodiazepines help the brain dampen the sense of danger it interprets, which induces a more relaxed state for the patient.
What Are the Other Options to Manage Dental Anxiety?
Dentists may offer a variety of anti-anxiety medications, which range from oral medication to other in-house treatment options such as:
- Nitrous Oxide (“Laughing Gas”) is another sedative a dentist can administer during the treatment. The dentist administers odorless and colorless gas through a nosepiece during a procedure which works as a depressant to slow down the brain and body into a relaxed state. For some patients, nitrous oxide may provide mild pain relief but is rarely used alone without a local anesthetic, especially for more invasive procedures. In the context of dentistry, nitrous oxide is very safe, effective, and often used for children who require something to keep them calmer during the procedure. Any potential side effects are generally mild and dissipate quickly with the introduction of pure oxygen.
- IV sedation is another option for sedation in dentistry, but because not every dentist is trained to use this method, it may not be an option your dentist can offer. IV sedation requires additional training beyond dental school. Dentists specializing in sedation dentistry may offer IV sedation as one of many options for their patients because it is easily controlled and offers an alternative to oral medication and nitrous oxide. One advantage of implementing IV sedation in dentistry is that a dentist will have a high level of control of the medication while closely monitoring a patient. The medication works immediately as it is administered through a port directly into a vein.
- Distraction can also be a non-invasive and effective method to reduce anxiety at the dentist. Distraction can come in the form of a television or movie projected onto the ceiling or earphones to listen to music.
Are you seeking out a sedation dentist in the area of Scottsdale, AZ, or Paradise Valley? Contact our office for a virtual consultation to see how we can help reduce your dental anxiety and get you on the road toward better oral health.