I had the most terrifying experience of my life at the dentist. I needed a filling. My first one. The dentist gave me the numbing shot waited and I didn’t get numb. Gave me another. Waited. I didn’t get numb. He tried three more shots, then tried to do the drilling. I could feel everything and started screaming. He stopped immediately and said he wanted to do some research before we continued and sent me home. Have you ever heard of this happening? I’m terrified to go back, but know I need to get this filling done.
What a terrible experience for you. Fortunately, I think I know exactly what was going on. You mentioned this was your first filling. My guess is you were pretty nervous about it. That is perfectly normal. What many dentists don’t realize is that anxiety affects the way the numbing medicine works. Your metabolism and anxiety work together. As your anxiety goes up, your body will burn off the numbing medicine more quickly. I suspect each time the numbing medicine didn’t work your anxiety went up burning up the medicine even faster.
Dealing with Dental Anxiety
For patients with some anxiety in the dental chair, I often suggest they use dental sedation. Not all dentists offer this option so you may have to do a Google search for a sedation dentist. In most cases, I suggest trying nitrous oxide first. This is the mildest form of sedation. It is administered through a nosepiece. The gas relaxes you. Because it is milder, it is much easier for you to get on with your day after the procedure is finished. The dentist will simply switch the gas to oxygen and in just a few minutes you are ready to go about your day as you normally would.
One thing that concerns me thinking about your starting with this level is you have had quite a traumatic experience. This makes it very likely your anxiety will be pretty high. Nitrous might not be enough for you given those circumstances. In cases of severe anxiety, I will suggest Oral Conscious Sedation, which is administered by a pill. This is pretty strong. So strong, some people call it sleep dentistry because most patients don’t remember their dental appointment at all. The only real downside to oral conscious sedation is you will need someone to drive you to and from your dental appointment, as well as stay with you a few hours afterward, to ensure you are completely lucid and steady on your feet.
You will find, with sedation relaxing you, your body will no longer burn off the numbing medicine so quickly. You will finally be able to get numb for your procedure.
This blog is brought to you by Lexington, KY Cater to Cowards Dentist Dr. Fred Arnold.