I am terrified of the dentist. When I say terrified, it means I lose sleep and cannot focus on anything in the days leading up to my dreaded appointment. I have even been known to call in right before the appointment and cancel. When I reschedule, I have even cancelled again. I hate it! I have serious anxiety and probably make everyone around me nervous too. I pace the halls, can’t sit still, and literally shake in the chair. Even though many dentists have suggested I do sedation dentistry, I just can’t go through with it. The thought of not knowing what’s going on has me even more freaked out than the appointment.

Well, my latest issue is a broken tooth. My dental insurance selects the dentist for me. And this time, it was a really big clinic. So when I went in for the appointment, I was left alone in the treatment room. They must have forgot about me or something, but after 30 min of sitting in my worst fear, I ran out. Any ideas on how I can find a dentist that isn’t trying to force sedation on me? I obviously need a caring, understanding type that is willing to deal with my hysterics.

– Jacob in Nevada


Thank you for being honest about your dental fear. There are millions of Americans with similar fears. After reading through your story, the best thing you can do is to locate a cater to cowards dentist. There are actually dentists out their that want nothing more than to help people just like you deal with and get over their anxiety.  Although, we know you aren’t a “coward,” this type of practice will likely create a relaxing, welcoming atmosphere. No question is dumb. There will be a lot of listening and taking it slow with gentle dentistry techniques.

All that to be said, they will likely offer sedation dentistry. It is unclear, other than you want to know what’s going on, why you are so against sedation dentistry. Because it could be very helpful to you. Maybe you don’t have a full understanding of the options available. Nitrous oxide is a relaxant gas that is specifically for the nervous patient. It will help you relax in the chair and kind of feel relaxed and a little bit silly. The effects can be increased or lessened and wear off almost immediately. So you will be completely aware what is happening the entire time. Have you ever tried nitrous or what is known as laughing gas? Based on what you have described, it could be a good fit.

The next step up for the more fearful patient is oral sedation. Now, this doesn’t mean you will be “knocked out,” but you will not remember anything. So we need to dig a little deeper to see what the real issue is with not knowing what is going on? This isn’t like general anesthesia in a hospital. It simply involves taking a prescribed medication before your appointment. You will be accompanied by a dental assistant that will monitor you vital signs for the entire appointment. So you won’t be alone. You can also request that the operatory room be open, so you will not be alone behind closed doors, if that is the real issue going on here. Whatever the case, with the right dentist, this could do wonders for you.

Now the highest level of sedation offered in the office is IV sedation. That is done intravenously. This may be what you have in mind when you state you don’t want to be “knocked out.” Just rest assured that you do have options. The right dentist, truly wants to help and not to make you uncomfortable or feel forced into anything.

So be open to the possibility of sedation. Be completely honest and upfront. There is a strong possibility these cater to coward dentists could be an excellent choice. Just call ahead to see if they will work with your dental insurance.

This post is sponsored by Atlanta dentist Flax Dental.