Tooth Talk: If I am afraid of needles, what are my other options?

Q: My dentist told me I need some dental work but I’m really nervous. Believe it or not, I was a nurse but I can’t stand needles! My dentist said he could give me a pill, Valium, I think, to relax me. I don’t know if that will be enough. I’m so nervous and it’s so embarrassing. Do you have any suggestions? This is making me crazy!

A: I understand your apprehension. Fear of needles is very, very common.

As I’m sure you know, Valium will make you relax but no one can say to what degree. If you aren’t relaxed enough, the experience you have can make you even more fearful for future visits or if your treatment will take more than one visit to complete.

This is definitely not in your best interest. If you have much work that needs to be done you may ask your dentist about being sedated for your appointments.

Another option would be to talk to your dentist about your apprehension and have your treatment completed slowly over a period of time. However, people with a fear of needles generally don’t respond well to this type of treatment plan.

Sedation would normally be the first choice in treating someone with a needle phobia. The patient is comfortably sedated and relaxed before any treatment begins, will usually go home and sleep the remainder of the day and wake with little to no memory of the treatment performed.

There are many types of sedation available for phobic patients. Those patients should meet with the doctor in order to discuss the treatment and have the sedation procedure explained. You may even choose to ask for a tour of the facility to put your mind at ease. The most important thing is that the dentist you choose be licensed and certified to perform sedation dentistry. There are very strict requirements by the Florida State Board of Dentistry with regard to licensure, medications and monitoring equipment necessary to practice sedation dentistry.


Questions can be sent to Fred Eck, D.D.S. at Marco Dental Care, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 305, Marco Island, or call 389-9400. Web site: He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Detroit Mercy and is licensed by the Florida State Board of Dentistry.

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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