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January 19 2010

Dental Anxiety: Addressing Fear And Anxiety During Dental Visits

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If you’re tense or anxious every time you have a dental appointment, you should tell your dentist about it immediately.  It is important to let your dentist know about your situation so that the appropriate treatment plan can be carried out to address your needs. Today, there are new technologies in dentistry that will alleviate such anxieties and make every dental visit comfortable.

The source of dental anxiety varies in each individual. It could stem from painful dental procedures in the past, existing behavioral or medical problems and fear of pain, in general. There are medications available to make every dental visit as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Further, there are behavior modification methods to put you in a relaxed state. Working with your dentist and letting him know about your fears will determine the best approach for your case.

Different types of medications and methodologies are used to relieve anxiety during dental treatment. Here are the different modalities used by dentists to help reduce anxiety and alleviate pain during dental procedures.

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  • Analgesics

Analgesics are commonly used to relieve tooth pain after a dental treatment. These include non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen. In cases of severe pain, narcotic analgesics such as codeine are used.


  • Local anesthesia

There are two kinds of local anesthesia: topical and injectable. Topical anesthetics are applied on the mouth tissues to reduce pain on the surface level. This is also used in preparation for injectable local anesthetics.

Injectable local anesthetics are administered to prevent pain in a specific area on the mouth during treatment. It blocks the nerves responsible for sensing pain and causes temporary numbness in the mouth tissues. Injectable anesthetics are commonly used in dental procedures such as tooth extraction, filling cavities and preparing teeth for crowns.


Sedatives such as nitrous oxide act as anti-anxiety agents to put the patient in a more relaxed state during dental visits. These sedatives are administered before, during or after the dental procedure, depending on the complexity of the case. The patient is put in a relaxed state but able to respond to verbal cues. Certain procedures require general anesthesia or deep sedation as in the case of patients who suffer from severe anxiety, young children and people who have medical conditions such as those who are unable to control their movements. Deep sedation induces a loss of consciousness in order to minimize pain and anxiety while general anesthesia causes temporary loss of consciousness.

It is important to understand the risks and your options in treating anxiety and pain during dental procedures. Your dentist is in the best position to educate you on oral health and dental concerns in regards to anxiety and fear. Working with your dentist to address these issues early on will ensure that your dental visit and treatments will be safe, painless and comfortable as possible.

Contact our Ft. Lauderdale dentists at for more information about reducing and completely eliminating anxiety during dental visits.