Can You Eat or Drink Before Dental Sedation?

Can You Eat or Drink Before Dental Sedation?

There are many forms of dental sedation and many reasons each option is used on a specific patient or during a certain dental procedure. Because sedation is a form of medication, you may wonder if you can eat or drink before you’re sedated. The answer, as with most things, is that it depends.

As caring dentists in Arizona, we will tell you before a procedure if there are any dietary restrictions you need to be aware of. When in doubt, though, ask. If you’re trying to determine if dental sedation is a good option for you, here’s what you need to know about eating and drinking on the day of your appointment.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous OxideOtherwise known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is the least invasive and mildest form of dental sedation. It relaxes you while keeping you fully aware of your surroundings. Once you remove your mask, the effects wear off very quickly, and you can easily go about your day.

As for eating or drinking anything, most people will be fine with no dietary restrictions. Feel free to eat a light meal a few hours before your procedure. Some patients, however, become nauseous while using nitrous oxide. In these situations, it’s advised to avoid too much food so you don’t become sick. If you’ve never used laughing gas at the dentist, refrain from eating until you know if it will make you nauseous.

Local Anesthesia

Local AnesthesiaTechnically not a sedation medication, local anesthesia is commonly used for many dental procedures. It may be used for a deep teeth cleaning, to extract a tooth, or for other work you need done. In most cases, all you feel is the prick of the needle, and then pressure as your dentist works on your teeth.

It’s always good to avoid heavy meals before any dental procedure, and with local anesthesia, a light meal a few hours before should be fine. Again, if you know that you become nauseous — for any reason — during a procedure, you may want to refrain from eating much until after you’re done.

Oral Sedation

Oral SedationBecause oral sedation involves taking medication in pill form, advice may vary from patient to patient on any dietary restrictions. Typically, you’ll be prescribed a medication to take the night before and then another to take shortly before your procedure. In some cases you may have minimal restrictions.

But some patients may be advised to refrain from eating for up to six hours prior to your procedure. Typically clear liquids are fine to drink during this time. Talk to your dentist about what’s right for you, based on the specific medication prescribed and the procedure itself.

IV Sedation

IV SedationIV sedation is typically only used for extremely invasive dental procedures and is one step above general anesthesia. You’re given medication through an IV in your hand that keeps you unaware of what’s going on but able to respond and communicate during your dental procedure. As such, the dietary restrictions are stricter.

Depending on the time of your procedure, you may be told not to eat after midnight or no more than six hours before your procedure. This means no solid, semi-solid, or dairy foods and beverages. You can, usually, drink clear liquids up to two hours before. Your stomach should be empty before your procedure. It’s also recommended that you avoid alcohol up to 24 hours before your appointment.


For most procedures and most forms of dental sedation, you’ll likely have very few dietary restrictions. If your dentist doesn’t mention any, ask to be sure. But sedation that involves strong medication or invasive dental surgery pose different types of risks. As such there is no simple yes or no answer in every situation.

If you use nitrous oxide to feel calm during your teeth cleaning, you may be fine. However, if medications, in general, tend to make you feel sick, avoiding food can prevent stomach upset. Every patient is different, as is every procedure. When in doubt, talk to your dentist to make sure you’re clear on exactly what you should and shouldn’t eat or drink.