a woman who has prepared for sedation dentistry

Sedation Dentistry: Preparing for Your Visit

Sedation dentistry was designed to prevent patient pain during invasive oral procedures, but it can also be beneficial for people whose fear of the dentist prevents them from receiving the treatment they need. If you’re scheduled to undergo sedation or are considering undergoing it, there are some things to keep in mind before the big day arrives. Use these tips for ensuring that your own appointment is as easy and stress-free as possible.

Do your research.

You’re much more likely to feel at ease during your procedure if you understand what’s going to happen before you reach the dentist’s office. If you’ve already talked to your dentist about what type of sedation you’ll be using, you can focus your research on it and the type of effect it will have on you. However, if you haven’t made a decision about that yet, broaden the scope of your research and look at the various types available (inhaled sedation, oral sedation, IV sedation). Be sure to find information about the effects, risks, and costs of each type of sedation dentistry.

While information from trusted sources like the American Dentistry Association is a must, it may also be helpful to look for blog posts or message boards where people discuss their own personal experiences with sedation. While these types of information shouldn’t completely replace the professional opinions of dentists, they can provide an insight into the process from a patient’s point of view.

Plan your ride home.

The more potent forms of sedation, such as oral medication or IV injections, will leave you unable to operate a vehicle for several hours after a procedure, so it’s important that you find someone who will be able to bring you home from your appointment. While minor sedation like nitrous oxide will probably not prevent you from driving, it may still be a good idea to arrange a ride anyways if it’s your first experience with the substance.

Take appropriate precautions the day before.

If you will be receiving IV sedation or general anesthesia at your dentist’s appointment, you will need to fast as a safety precaution before your procedure. Individual dentists may have their own specific sedation rules, but generally you should stop eating and drinking eight hours in advance. Additionally, you should also stop drinking alcohol 24 hours before your appointment and stop smoking 12 hours before. If you have to take medication, it should done with as small amount of water as possible.

There are such severe restrictions on food and drink because such heavy sedation reduces your gag reflex, which makes it possible for the contents of your stomach to be regurgitated into your lungs. If you do accidentally eat or drink something during this timeframe, it may be necessary to reschedule your appointment.

Ask questions and voice concerns.

It’s important that you feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible during your procedure, so be sure to ask your dentist plenty of questions and voice any concerns you may have about the process. It’s a natural, understandable response to be a little nervous, and your dentist should be happy to do anything he or she can to make you feel at ease with what’s going on.

Think about what you’re going to wear.

It’s best to wear loose-fitting clothing the day of your procedure, and if possible, be sure to wear a short-sleeved shirt. Additionally, it may be useful to wear older clothing—your dentist will do everything he or she can to ensure that it doesn’t get stained, but sometimes it can be unavoidable.

Last Updated: December 29, 2014