For patients with difficulty managing anxiety related to dental phobias or patients undergoing lengthy procedures, Dr. Chang may prescribe a sedative medication such as Ativan or Valium. These medications are normally taken orally prior to a patient’s appointment. Medications like Valium or Ativan belong to a family of mild sedatives called benzodiazepines which relax the body and central nervous system through the GABA receptors in the brain. Unlike nitrous oxide, benzodiazepines have longer lasting effects and can impair motor and cognitive functions. For this reason, patients prescribed anti-anxiety medication for their dental procedure should arrange for a friend or family member to take them to and from their appointment.
While this type of sedation can help many anxious patients, it is not right for everyone—especially patients with certain medical conditions. If you have trouble with dental anxiety, consider discussing this option and your overall health with your dentist so that he can determine the best methods to ensure your comfort.