a patient who will be recovering from sedation dentistry

Sedation Dentistry: Recovering from Your Procedure

Sedation dentistry can keep you calm and pain-free while in the dentist’s chair, but the powerful medications used tend to last longer than the span of your appointment. Because of this, it’s important that you have a recovery plan in place to ensure that your recuperation process goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. If you’re unsure of what a good plan looks like, use these tips to help get you started.

Have a ride home lined up.

If you undergo moderate to heavy sedation, which commonly includes oral medication, IV injections, and general anesthesia, you won’t be able to operate a vehicle for several hours after your procedure. This means that you will need arrange for someone to pick you up from the dentist and drive you home. This can be a small detail that’s easy to overlook, but forgetting it can be a real pain. Additionally, you might want to consider arranging a ride even if you only undergo mild sedation like nitrous oxide—especially if it’s the first time you’ve ever used it.

Prepare your home in advance.

If you’ve undergone a major oral procedure while under sedation, there’s a likely chance that you won’t be in any condition to do many activities after your appointment. That’s why it’s important to “recovery-proof” your home beforehand. This includes finding a comfortable place to recuperate (probably your bed or couch), gathering recovery necessities (ice packs, etc.), and assembling some comfort items (books, magazines, etc.). If possible, have the person who drove you home stick around to make sure that you’ve got everything lined up.

Prepare to take some time off.

The severity of your procedure will largely determine how much time you need to recuperate, but it’s best to go ahead and assume that you will need a little time off from work. For minor procedures, this might be something as simple as taking the rest of the afternoon off, but for major oral surgery you might possibly need days or even an entire week to rest.

Follow your dentist’s instructions for recovery.

After your appointment, your dentist will probably have some specific instructions for you to follow concerning your recovery. It’s important that you do exactly what they say, even if it seems unnecessary to you. For example, after a major procedure, it’s common to be prescribed some sort of pain-relieving medication. Even if you feel normal before the prescription runs out, it’s still a good idea to finish your medication regimen; it’s better to play it safe than quit early and cause yourself further pain.

Watch your diet.

After a procedure that requires sedation, you may not feel like you have the strength or desire to eat or drink. However, maintaining a healthy diet during this time is important to your recovery process. Avoid dehydration by drinking at least eight glasses of liquid a day—it may be a good idea to buy some sports drinks to replenish your electrolytes as well. When deciding what to eat, look for foods that are high in calories and protein but are easy to chew.

Avoid becoming a YouTube sensation.

Thanks to the popularity of videos like “David After Dentist,” filming people acting goofy while under the effects of sedation has become a massive trend. If you’re not the kind of person who finds self-deprecating humor to be funny, it might be a good idea to explicitly tell your friends and family that they shouldn’t film you while you’re still under the influence of powerful medications. Watching videos like these is a riot, no doubt, but you might change your tune when you find yourself to be the star of one!

Last Updated: December 29, 2014