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It’s May 22nd. 


This is now the fourth dentist’s appointment you have scheduled, having bailed on the last three due to last minute panic attacks. 


At that point, paying the cancellation fee was worth it to calm your nerves down.


You think to yourself, “It’s just the dentist’s office, I’m one hundred dollars plus in the hole, I can do this… I need to go.” You shakily get yourself dressed, and grab your car keys off the counter, almost feeling at ease.


“I can do this, I’m almost there.”


You get in your car, immediately blasting the AC to get rid of the humid air stuck in the car. 


As you grip your steering wheel, an almost invisible force stops you. 


You feel your stomach clench, and your head begins to spin. Your memories of the whirring saws, and the stabbing pain from your last visit invades your mind, and you almost unconsciously feel your hands drifting towards the “Engine Off” button. 


“I guess this is going to be another cancellation..” you lament to yourself. 




This is not a story, but an experience that thousands of people across the country face when they try to take care of their dental health. Dental anxiety is something that actively prevents people from nurturing a very vital part of their overall physiological well being, and luckily, we here at Willis & Associates Family Dentistry are pros at helping you manage your dental anxiety during your visit with us.

During your visit with us, each of our staff members, whether it be the dental assistant, the front desk staff, or the lead dentist, will always elaborate and outline each step of our care to you; we feel as though leaving our patients in the dark in any way is a surefire route to creating an anxious dental environment. When we explain our care to you, we make sure that you’re aware of what we’re doing from the moment you check in with us to the moment you check out.

Plus, we’re just passionate about dentistry so we love talking about it 🙂


If these steps are not sufficient to combat your dental anxiety, it’s not a problem at all! We have a wide array of tools at our disposal to medically ease your nerves.


Anxiety-Reduction Pills 


The most commonly prescribed dental-related drugs that treat anxiety belong to the “benzodiazepine” family. These drugs decrease anxiety by directly binding with and toning down activity within “fear” receptors in the brain.


There are two different types of Benzodiazepines we can prescribe you:

  • Sedative-Hypnotics: These drugs induce calm, including drowsiness and even sleep. This sleep state is actually a form of hypnosis which is a form of physiological sleep.
  • Direct Anti-Anxiety Drugs: These are drugs which relieve anxiety and induce a state of calm and relaxation.


While benzodiazepines act as sedatives AND anti-anxiety drugs, some are highly targeted at areas within the brain that focus on sleep. Others act in a more specific way and target fear centers in the brain. In most cases, higher doses act as sedatives and induce sleep, while lower doses reduce anxiety without sedation.


Nitrous Oxide


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

It has been the primary means of sedation in dentistry for many years. Nitrous oxide is extremely 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.


There are many advantages to using Nitrous Oxide

  • 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.



At the end of the day, our number one priority is to make sure your visit with us is as comfortable of a visit as possible. Whenever you are feeling any sort of anxiety or stress with coming for your dental examination, please don’t hesitate to elaborate on your concerns; our staff will accommodate you and make sure you are taken care of!


Schedule your appointment at a Willis & Associates Family Dentistry office today!