• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

    Register now to access all the features of the forum.

nitrous or anti-anxiety pill?



Well-known member
Aug 13, 2014
When it comes to using nitrous oxide or an anti-anxiety med such as Ativan, Valium, etc. for nervous/fearful patients, which would be considered "safer" and less likely to cause unpleasant side effects such as feeling woozy or loopy? Would nitrous work just as well at calming the patient and curbing anxiety symptoms as an anti-anxiety pill?

My dentist won't prescribe Ativan, etc. for my upcoming wisdom tooth appointment and said to check with my doctor about getting it prescribed. My doctor also won't prescribe it, despite having done so before for one-time use. I'm not sure why either is reluctant to prescribe it unless perhaps they've both had patients who requested the medication for the wrong reasons and ended up addicted to it.
I find nitrous works fantastically well for a lot of my anxious patients. It’s very controllable so can be tailored well to the individual and best of all you’re sober within a couple of minutes of switching it off and breathing oxygen ?

I certainly tend to prefer it over giving patients premedication before coming in but would do both depending on the individual.
I would say they are both safe when given by someone qualified to do so. If anything Nitrous oxide is the most safe since the nitrous machine is designed to never give less that 30% oxygen which is a higher concentration than is found in normal air.
Both nitrous and drugs you mentioned (benzodiazepines) work in different ways so for calming and reducing anxiety one type may prove more effective than the other. Only last week I had a case of a needle phobic needing a filling. The premed did not work enough but once I added in some nitrous it went like a dream much to everyone's relief!
In my office I’m fine with prescribing and giving you nitrous and more as needed. Some dentists may have licensure restrictions based on country, state, DEA (USA), and license endorsements.