Options to Treat Anxiety

At Hillside Endodontic we offer different ways to help you relax during your treatment, should you be at all anxious. Some of these options are explained in more detail below. First we offer nitrous oxide more commonly known as laughing gas. A second option alone or in conjunction with nitrous is oral sedation.  Third we can provide you with noise cancelling headphones with or without music. Or you may bring your own should you prefer. We also have stress balls and pillows to make you more comfortable while sitting in the chair.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide is a sweet-smelling, non-irritating, colorless gas which you can breathe. Nitrous Oxide has been the primary means of sedation in dentistry for many years. Nitrous oxide is safe, the patient receives 50-70% oxygen with no less than 30% nitrous oxide.The patient is able to breathe on their own and remain in control of all bodily functions. The patient may experience mild amnesia and may fall asleep, not remembering all of what happened during their appointment.

The advantages to using Nitrous Oxide are:

  • The depth of sedation can be altered at any time to increase or decrease sedation.
  • There is no after effect such as a “hangover”.
  • Inhalation sedation is safe with no side effects on your heart and lungs, etc.
  • Inhalation sedation is very effective in minimizing gagging.
  • It works rapidly as it reaches the brain within 20 seconds. In as little as 2-3 minutes its relaxation and pain killing properties develop.

Reasons to not use Nitrous Oxide

You should not utilize Nitrous Oxide if you have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Though there are no other major contraindications to using nitrous oxide, you may not want to use it if you have emphysema, exotic chest problems, M.S., a cold or other difficulties with breathing.

oral conscious Sedation:

Another option for patients suffering from anxiety is to take medication prior to the appointment. Typically we use agents from the benzodiazepine class of drugs since their safety profile is higher than any other class of drugs. Some examples you may be familiar with are Xanax and Valium.  We often use one called Halcion (Triazolam), which has a rapid onset and short duration. It is usually taken about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy, although you’ll still be awake. A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation. Some people become groggy enough from moderate oral sedation to fall asleep during the procedure. Alternatively we can offer antihistamines. These are primarily used to manage allergic type reactions yet they also cause sedation as a side effect.  Some examples are  Atarax, Benadryl, and Phenergan which produce calming and sleep-inducing effects. The actual sedative efficacy of these agents is generally less than that of benzodiazepines.

For instructions on taking oral medications please see the  ORAL SEDATION INSTRUCTIONS PAGE.

Patients that are taking any oral sedatives must have a responsible adult escort to take them to and from the appointment.  It is advised not to make important decisions, or consume alcohol for a period of 24 hours after the appointment.