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Dental and Oral Health Center

Fear of needles during dentistry

08/03/2006

Question:

I have to have a root canal, but I`m afraid of needles. I asked my dentist if he would numb my mouth first before injecting me, but he said that numbing me first would not help. However, before getting dental work done, my previous doctors have always numbed me first and I didn`t feel a thing when they got ready to inject me.

Does my dentist really know what he`s talking about? Am I really going to be able to feel the injection? I`m a step away from a nervous breakdown. I really hate needles.

Answer:

You are not alone in your fear of needles. It is one of the biggest problems we as dentists face. Topical anesthetic can be helpful in reducing the pain of certain dental injections - mainly the ones toward the front of your mouth. They can be beneficial for other injections too, but not to the same extent.

If you really want your dentist to use a topical, then insist on it. I don't see why they wouldn't use it.

If your fear is stronger, you may need to get an oral sedative medicine from your dentist. This will help you relax and may reduce your anxiety. The only problem is that you will need someone to accompany you and drive you home.

The really strong needle-phobics may require IV sedation. This can be a bit costly and may not be covered by your insurance. Also, not all dentists are licensed to do IV sedation. You may have to see a different dentist who has been trained for this or your dentist may have to try and schedule for a dental anesthetist to come to the office. Again, this can be costly.

I hope this information helps. The one thing you do not want to do is self-medicate yourself with any over-the-counter medications without first consulting with your dentist. This means alcohol too. That can be very dangerous.  Good luck.

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Response by:

John M Nusstein, DDS John M Nusstein, DDS
Associate Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University