If you’re nervous about dental appointments, you might worry about how long dental sedation will last. Will it wear off before your dentist completes your procedure? Relax. Depending on the type of sedation you receive, it will last throughout your appointment—and in some cases—you’ll still be drowsy for several hours after the appointment. A consideration of the levels of sedation available will give you confidence that you’ll remain comfortable during treatment.
Types of Sedation Dentistry
Nitrous oxide – This is the mildest form of sedation. It’s also known as “laughing gas.”
- After two to three minutes of inhaling it, nitrous oxide will make you feel floaty, tingly, and calm.
- You’ll be relaxed and desensitized to pain. If you have a gag reflex, sedation will minimize or eliminate it.
- During your dental procedure, you will breathe normally through a small mask. While you’re breathing in nitrous oxide, you’ll remain relaxed.
- After your procedure, your dentist will remove the mask, and the effects will quickly reverse.
- You don’t need an escort, and you can drive yourself home.
Oral conscious sedation – Your dentist will give you mild anxiety-relieving medication to take the night before and about an hour before you arrive for your dental appointment.
- You’ll be drowsy before, during, and after your dental appointment.
- The sedation won’t wear off while you’re in the middle of treatment.
- Your dentist will require that you arrange for transportation to and from your appointment. Your driver will need to remain with you at the office.
I.V. sedation – I.V. sedation goes right into your bloodstream. Most dentists do not offer this level of sedation.
- You’ll be so relaxed that you might fall asleep.
- The effects won’t wear off while you’re receiving dental care.
- After your appointment, you’ll still be a little sleepy.
- Your dentist will remind you to plan for an escort and transportation to and from your appointment.
Before you self-medicate
Some people decide to sedate themselves before an appointment by drinking alcohol or taking a sedative. Let your dentist know what you are going to take, as well as the amount. Your dentist might need to adjust the amount of sedation that he or she would give you. And your dentist will discuss how your choice of sedative can affect your dental procedure. For example, drinking alcohol in advance of your appointment can thin your blood, promote bleeding, and interfere with the clotting process.
Many people are more comfortable about receiving sedation after discussing their anxiety and concerns with their dentist. As your understanding of sedation increases, you will be confident that it will last throughout your dental appointment so you can relax and get the care you need.
Baton Rouge dentist Steven Brooksher, DDS sponsors this post.