Although most people don’t want to admit it, dental anxiety is common. Regular dental anxiety affects about one in three people. This makes going to the dentist uncomfortable, leading to an unpleasant experience. However, extreme dental fear affects about one in 8 people. This level of fear keeps people from getting the dental care they need. They actively avoid dental appointments, preferring to deal with poor dental health rather than seeing a dentist. 

Relaxation dentistry can help people overcome their dental anxiety to get necessary dental care. At StarImage Dental Boutique in Southlake, we understand that not everyone has the same relaxation dentistry needs, so we offer multiple approaches to achieving calm in the dental chair. To help you find the best relaxation dentistry option for you, we offer this brief guide. 

woman looking up at the warm sunshine, relaxing in a field

Understanding the Guide

When you’re deciding what type of relaxation dentistry is best for you, you should consider three main factors: the level of anxiety it can counter, pain relief it provides, and the amount of side effects you will experience. For each of the types of relaxation we offer, we’ll provide a qualitative evaluation of all three factors, then give a more detailed explanation of the treatment and who it’s best for. 

Oral Conscious Sedation

Anxiety Relief: Mild to Moderate

Pain Relief: Mild

Side Effects: Moderate

How It Works: Oral conscious sedation is a pill you take either before coming to our dental office or on arrival. This type of sedation dentistry uses prescription medications like Ativan or Halcion that you place under your tongue. This medication is good for people who routinely experience mild to moderate dental anxiety and need help getting normal dental procedures. The advantage of oral conscious sedation is that it can take effect before you reach the dental office, so it helps with pre-visit anxiety. We can even prescribe an additional dose to help you sleep the night before. However, it is hard to extend the effects for complex procedures, and it’s likely that effects will last beyond your procedure. You will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment. Other than ongoing sedation, side effects include dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and memory loss. We combine this with local anesthetic to control pain. 

Nitrous Oxide

Anxiety Relief: Mild

Pain Relief: Moderate

Side Effects: Mild

How It Works: Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is an inhaled sedative that helps you relax during your dental procedure. We administer nitrous oxide when you arrive at our office. It starts acting quickly so you can get your treatment right away. We can also adjust the effect as we go and extend it as necessary if your procedure runs long.However, when we discontinue the gas, you will recover quickly and can drive yourself home. Nitrous oxide also helps relieve pain, which means that for minor dental procedures, some people don’t need local anesthesia. Since pain is subjective, we recommend making this decision based on your personal experience with discomfort during dental procedures.  Side effects are usually mild, but if you receive too high a dose of nitrous oxide, you might get nausea, headaches, or fainting. 

IV Sedation

Anxiety Relief: Severe

Pain Relief: Mild

Side Effects: Moderate

How It Works: In IV sedation dentistry, we introduce small amounts of fast-acting sedative directly into your bloodstream. IV sedation lets us safely deliver enough medication to counter all but the most extreme of dental phobias. It also helps people who find it difficult to sit through a long, complicated dental procedure, no matter what level of anxiety they might experience. This is often a good choice for oral surgery, along with local anesthesia. We can prolong IV sedation as necessary to ensure sedation throughout the procedure. However, sedative effects linger after the procedure. You will need someone to drive you home. This should be a responsible adult who can help with post-procedure instructions, as you may have some memory loss. 


Anxiety Relief: Mild to Moderate

Pain Relief: None

Side Effects: Mild (often positive)

How It Works: NuCalm is a drug-free approach to relaxation dentistry. Instead, NuCalm uses neuroscience to induce a deeply meditative state, like just being at the edge of sleep. Time passes quickly and your mind wanders. You have little awareness of the world around you. It’s very effective at controlling mild to moderate anxiety for most people. However, it provides no pain relief, other than distraction. When necessary, we use local anesthetic. When we stop NuCalm, you can come to full alertness within a few minutes. There are few negative side effects, but people sometimes experience positive side effects like feeling calm, recharged, and inspired. 

Find the Right Relaxation Dentistry for You in Southlake

At StarImage Dental Boutique, we work hard to ensure not just great dental results but a great dental experience for all our patients. If you are struggling with dental anxiety, or are looking for a different approach to relaxation during dental treatment, we can help. Please call (817) 587-4566 or use our online contact form to request a consultation at StarImage Dental Boutique in Southlake, TX.