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Anxiety with drill and Nitrous no longer fully working causing vicious cycle

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pf778c

Junior member
Joined
Apr 22, 2024
Messages
2
Location
USA
Help!

I did not see a dentist for years due to severe fear gained during childhood. After finding a fantastic dentist in my early twenties and with the help of nitrous oxide, I was able to not only get my dental issues addressed, but also regain my confidence. While I can't say I totally conquered my fears, I was no longer crippled by them. Hooray!

My fantastic dentist has since retired, and after trying a few not-so-fantastic dentists, I confess stalking my retired one on the internet, and she was kind enough to recommend a new dentist to me. Love my new dentist. Unfortunately, although my new dentist is great, I just don't seem to be responding to the nitrous as I once did. I never felt the effects others have described, only feeling relaxed and "tingly" enough to be able to distract myself with music and mild paranoia over whether my dentist and her assistant were giggling over me. The key takeaway being "distracted" from the horrible, horrible drill sound. Now, I start to feel the effects at the beginning of my procedure, but once the drill starts, it's as if the nitrous has been turned off, despite my dentist saying it's up as high as it will go. This started with a crown one of the not-so-fantastic dentist did and I'm wondering if it's a vicious cycle at this point, where I'm afraid the nitrous won't take effect, so it doesn't.

I'm no longer afraid of my dentist. I am not afraid of injections. It's 1001% the sound of the drilling. Is there anything I can do on my end to make the nitrous more effective? I think having a success will give me back some feeling of control and confidence. I did get a prescription of 0.5mg Xanax to try next time and will try some earbuds, since my over-the-ear headphones weren't compatible with the nitrous nose piece, but I really want the distraction the nitrous was able to give me in the past. To me, it was a total miracle, but now I'm at the point where I question whether it's worth getting it; it was in effect, my "armor" and now I'm back to feeling so vulnerable. I don't mean to sound so melodramatic, but it's just not fair to my dentist to have to work on a patient who is clearly uncomfortable (mentally, not physically).

Thank you!

Bechi
 
The Xanax will help. What tends to happen is that as you get stressed out as the treatment starts, you start to pant a bit through your mouth, instead of through your nose, so you're really not getting the benefit of the N2O, being a bit more relaxed to start with (thanks to the Xanax) should help you get over this, then things will improve.
 
Thank you Gordon. I truly hope so. I'm admittedly a "nose panter" when I get anxious; I will try to consciously slow myself down, but it's difficult! I saw someone on this forum recommend breathing in as deeply as possible through the nose and holding before exhaling. Is that the right idea?

I just can't understand why the nitrous worked so well for me thirty years ago when my issues were much more severe, but just isn't having much of an effect any longer.

I really appreciate your help and this forum,

Bechi
 
I saw someone on this forum recommend breathing in as deeply as possible through the nose and holding before exhaling. Is that the right idea?
Yeah, not really important about the holding part but just concentrating on breathing deeply and slowly through your nose is best. Simple deep breathing by itself can reduce anxiety quite a bit.

I just can't understand why the nitrous worked so well for me thirty years ago when my issues were much more severe, but just isn't having much of an effect any longer.
People's reaction to sedation can vary a huge amount even on different days, it's all part of the "art" of working with sedation as a dentist.
 
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