Anxiety Management

Do you experience high levels of anxiety when visiting the dentist? You may be a candidate for Nitrous Oxide or other Anti-Anxiety Management Medications. Dr. Creekmore and Dr. Larkin are certified to administer medications for anxiety management with over twenty five years of experience treating children and adults.

Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas)

Nitrous Oxide is a sweet-smelling, non-irritating, colorless gas which you can breathe.

Nitrous Oxide has been the primary means of anxiolysis (anxiety relief) in dentistry for many years. Nitrous oxide is safe, the patient receives 30-70% nitrous oxide with no less than 30% oxygen.

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.

Advantages to using Nitrous Oxide

  • The depth of anxiolysis can be altered at any time to increase or decrease patient comfort.
  • There is no after effect such as a “hangover”.
  • Inhalation sedation is safe with no side effects on your heart and lungs, etc.
  • It works rapidly. Most patients feel a decrease in anxiety in as little as 2-3 minutes.

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 breathing.

Anti-Anxiety Medications

The most commonly prescribed dental related drugs that treat anxiety belong to the “benzodiazepine” family. Drugs such as Valium, Halcion, Xanax, or Ativan. These drugs decrease anxiety by binding and toning down activity within “fear” receptors in the brain. Benzodiazepines act as sedatives AND anti-anxiety drugs. In most cases, higher doses act as sedatives and induce sleep, while lower doses, reduce anxiety without sedation.

Benzodiazepines should NOT be mixed with other CNS depressants such as alcohol. Its important that you utilize the dose your dentist or doctor recommends. Please note that you shouldn’t travel on your own after you’ve taken any of these drugs. Make sure you have an escort, even if you traveled by bus or foot! It’s easy to become disorientated.

Advantages to patients include:

  • Treatment is completed when you are in a more relaxed mood.
  • You will have less difficulty sitting through a lengthy procedure.
  • Multiple treatments and full mouth restorations can occur during the same visit.
  • Less discomfort after treatment.

When not to take benzodiazepines:

Some of these drugs can affect your liver and heart. It’s important to check with your medical doctor and/or pharmacist.  You should be sure to inform your doctor or dentist if any of the following apply: known allergy to the drug, narrow-angle glaucoma, pregnancy, severe respiratory disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), impaired kidney or liver function, depression/bipolar disorder/psychoses, chronic bronchitis and some other conditions. It’s also important to let us know if you are taking other medications. There could be possible drug interactions.