13 Ways to Make Your Dentist Less Terrifying

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My friend Jan who is a self-confessed “big coward who cringes” at the thought of any dental procedure asked me if she should take cannibis prior to her dental appointment. She is not able to use nitrous gas due to her body crashing from it (from a methylation SNP). She’s had a bad reaction to it.

When Jan asked me about “eating a little brownie,” I reminded her that she lives in a state where medical marijuana has not been decriminalized yet, and federal law prohibits it. Besides, a Sativa strain (versus Indica) would heighten her anxiety and increase vividness. Believe me, I’m not an aficionado, but I know that much! Also, a cannibis treat could make for a looooooooonnnnnggggger procedure if you know what I mean. And like a good friend, I pointed out the biggest dilemma of all: How will you deal with the munchies with all that gauze in your mouth!

Many of you are skittish about dental work too. I can’t say I am, however I’ve come close to it. I think the sound of drilling, or other noises is the hardest part. When I had 2 hours of scraping done near my gum line a few months ago, I brought in a soft, fuzzy microwavable hot pack. I asked the hygienist to warm it up and then I placed it on my abdomen where it provided instant comfort. I plugged in my headphones and listened to upbeat music. It was loud enough to muffle  my own ‘mental noise’ as well as the scraping sound she was making, plus several comments about “all the blood.”  Here are other ideas to reduce anxiety and pain:

Essential oil of bergamot or lavender- Put a drop of either (or a drop of both) in your hands, and rub together, then cup your hands and inhale deeply.

St. John’s wort- If you buy the liquid extract, you can take a small dose using just a few drops.

5-HTP- This supplement raises serotonin, which reduces anxiety.

Rescue Remedy- Contains 5 different flower essences including Star of Bethlehem which is helpful for trauma and shock, and  Rock Rose which helps with panic or terror. Bach Flower makes this.

L-theanine- Found in green tea, drink a cup before going. It’s also a strong anti-infective. Test yourself on this in advance, because some people get more alert, rather than relaxed.

Honopure by Econugenics- For a quick ooh lala, especially at bedtime, but also useful for anxiety.

Glycine- but lower doses because 2 grams will put you to sleep, so perhaps something like 250 or 500mg to take the edge off.

Kavinace- This hits the GABA receptors like a benzo, but it’s sold without prescription through your doctor. Can be used instead of benzodiazepines.

I would be remiss not to offer a pharmaceutical options since I’m a pharmacist.
(I know the dangers of ‘benzos’ don’t email me)
I’m talking about literally ONE pill:

Clonazepam wafers- These come in minute doses, like 0.125mg and they’re sublingual. Take one before your appointment. If all you have is Xanax, crush 1 pill and take a teeny lick, then get someone to drive you to and from your appointment because this could put you to sleep.  I wouldn’t take the whole pill. Benzo drugs raise GABA and that relaxes you.

Acetaminophen- Known as paracetamol overseas.  The brand is called Tylenol.
About 500 to 1,000 mg should pre-empt the pain that will ensue, however it does nothing for anxiety. It has nice analgesic effects and does not thin the blood.  This agent can be combined with some of the herbals and essential oils above.

Ibuprofen will work as well as acetaminophen, however it has mild blood-thinning properties, be careful with that one. I do not normally recommend it prior to dental work where blood is involved, but do as your dentist what if it’s okay. This agent can be combined with some of the herbals and essential oils above.