What to Do After You Have Dental Sedation

What to Do After You Have Dental Sedation

Dental sedation is one of the wonders of modern dentistry, enabling easy, peaceful processes with no pain or discomfort. But sedation can also be a little frightening to patients who haven’t had it before. If you plan to be sedated during your procedure, how should you prepare? What should you do after? Here’s what you need to know.

The Different Types of Dental Sedation

The Different Types of Dental SedationFirst: dental sedation actually encompasses multiple types of sedation. There are three major types, depending on procedure, and patient tolerance:

  • Gas. Nitrous oxide, often known as “laughing gas,” is a temporary type of sedation that makes a patient relaxed and less anxious. It wears off almost immediately once it is no longer being administered. It is not complete sedation, but it is useful for those who have dental anxiety, and those who aren’t undergoing significant procedures. Conscious sedation is popular because you’re still active and awake, but can better deal with the stress of the event.
  • Oral. Oral sedation is often referred to as “twilight sedation.” It’s a pill that brings you to a relaxed, nearly unconscious but still conscious state. It requires that you wait until the sedation wears off. Oral sedation is popular because it doesn’t require an IV; it’s just a pill that takes action within an hour.
  • IV. IV sedation is the most significant form of sedation, and will actually bring a patient to unconsciousness. Again, it requires that you wait until the sedation wears off. IV sedation is usually used for more serious procedures and can start working within minutes.

If you’re going to undergo any type of sedation, you should discuss the pros and cons with your dentist. For many dental procedures, sedation isn’t necessary but rather an issue of patient comfort — wisdom tooth extraction, for instance, doesn’t require sedation, but many patients request it. For more serious dental procedures, sedation is absolutely critical.

What You Should Do After Dental Sedation

After nitrous oxide, you can wait a moment and then drive yourself home. But if you had oral or IV sedation, you need another person to help you get home. It may be some time before you are fully “awake” and able to drive a vehicle.

Oral sedation can take a few hours to fully wake from, so a patient may find themselves waking up within an hour of the procedure, but still not fit to drive for another few hours. IV sedation wears off faster and starts faster, as it is direct to the blood stream rather than through the digestive track. However, both sedation can still have some effect for 24 hours afterwards.

After either IV or oral sedation, you should have someone available to help take care of you. Another adult should be prepared to stay with you for at least a few hours after you get home, so they can notice any irregularities and call the dentist or another doctor if they notice something wrong.

As you wake up from IV or oral sedation, you may feel confused, or experience some memory loss. This is normal. Having a friend or family member there when you wake up can help.

Recovery Processes After Dental Sedation

Recovery Processes After Dental SedationRecovery processes generally depend on the type of dentistry completed. If you had serious dental surgery, root canals, or implants, you should prepare your meals in advance, or have easy to eat meals such as soups available. It’s usually best to have an adult around to help with tasks. You may be sore for a day or two following your procedure. If you’re given a prescription for pain medication, you should fill it immediately and take it as directed.

Always follow your recovery instructions, and make a follow-up appointment if needed. If you experience unusual levels of pain or discomfort, you should contact your dentist right away. If you simply had laughing gas and a routine cavity filled, you may not need any special after care after the dental sedation, though your mouth might be numb for up to six hours afterwards.


Dental procedures can differ substantially depending on what the procedure is, what sedation form is needed, and the patient themselves. If you have any questions about your dental needs, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Dental Brothers. We want to make sure you stay comfortable and anxiety free during your dental procedures.