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dental sedation

How Long Does Dental Sedation Last? Is it Safe?

The thought of sitting on the dentist’s chair for treatment procedures or even cleaning could make people fret. Many people tend to bear the pain of a toothache or try some temporary remedies at home. Delaying dental treatments is risky; one might lose their tooth forever. Moreover, the costs of treatments increase if you do not visit the dentist and get treatments early.

With advanced methods of sedation, dental visits are not nightmarish anymore. Different ways of pain-free dentistry are available today for necessary cleaning to complex surgeries.

Commonly used sedatives:

Laughing gas:

Here patients need to inhale a mixture of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and oxygen. Dentists can vary the amount of gas that the patient takes in. Patients are conscious but do not feel any pain during the procedure. The effect of the gas lasts only for a few minutes. So, it is applicable for treatments requiring minimum sedation.

Risks of nitrous oxide:

Long term inhalation can cause suffocation. Excess of the gas can numb the nerve endings. It can decrease vitamin levels. So dentists control the amount of gas continuously.

Oral Sedatives:

Oral sedative pills like Halcion and Valium are for depressing consciousness. With such pills, the dosage levels cannot be changed. People have to take the medicines a night or a few hours before the dental sitting. Patients may not know what the dentist is doing but can follow their instructions and cooperate. Generally, the sedation effect lasts for two to eight hours, depending on the drug used.

Side effects of oral conscious drugs:

Patients might feel drowsy, tired, and experience constipation. The medicine slows down brain activity and interferes with thinking and judgmental skills. But some patients do not experience any issues. As precautionary measures, it is always better to have someone to help you for at least a day.

One should seek immediate medical help if you experience conditions that include repeated seizures, yellowness in eyes, inability to urinate, abnormal sweating, and allergic reactions.

Moderate Intravenous sedation: 

Doctors can administer drugs through an intravenous line. Medicines like midazolam, propofol, and ketamine are used for the purpose. The patients can mostly cooperate for verbal instructions. Tactile stimuli can make them active. It works instantly, and you do not require taking any pills. The drug levels can be adjusted during the procedures. Each drug has a specific onset time, peak response, and the duration of effectiveness. The dentists are trained to prevent oversedation.

The sedative effect of the drug can last for one to six hours, depending on the dosage and the type of medicine used. But you can feel mild side effects such as drowsiness, tiredness, coordination problem, etc., for one or two days. In young children and older adults, it takes a longer time. The sedatives are eliminated from the body through urine and feces.

Side effects of conscious intravenous drugs:

Mild side effects are similar to sedative pills. But, a drug overdose could cause problems like breathing difficulties, irregular heartbeat, pressure fluctuations, blurred vision, and even death. But the medicos and hospitals are highly responsible, and such mishaps are rare.

Deep Sedation:

Under deep sedation, patients cannot be aroused but can respond to repeated stimuli. But they will not be able to recollect anything regarding the procedure. It is for major oral surgeries, and patients may be hospitalized at least for a day. Only certified surgeons can administer the drugs, and sedation levels are checked continually. It is applicable to only those patients who do not have any medical complications and allergy. Patients are put on a ventilator, and a dedicated team will monitor your vitals such as heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure. One needs to adhere to both preoperative and post-operative procedures strictly. Drugs such as etomidate, propofol, ketamine are used for the purpose.

The sedation effects take a minimum of 24 hours to wear off, and patients are not allowed to drive on their own on the way back home. The risks and side effects are similar to those of conscious sedation.

Sedation is the way for having no fear dentistry. For simple treatments, you might have to ask the dentists for inducing it. Those who avoid treatments due to dental anxiety could opt for this method as it is faster and fuss-free. It is our responsibility to take all precautionary measures and follow the instructions.

General guidelines for having sedation dentistry:

  1. It is advisable not to have any solid food six hours prior to the treatment. One can have clear liquids before two hours of the appointment.
  2. One should opt for comfortable clothing and minimalistic accessories.
  3. Take all prescribed medications, and most importantly, one needs to reveal the medical complications, if any. The patient has to share past problems and treatment procedures in the health history questionnaire or to the dentist directly. It helps in choosing the right drug and giving the correct dosage.
  4. The patient should not be sick on the appointment day, as sedative components can interfere with the working of other medicines. It is advisable to wait for 24 hours for self-driving.
  5. You might have to stay in hospital till the doctor gives a safety clearance. Patients need somebody to escort them home and take care of them.
  6. It might take 4 -6 hours to wear down the side effects. Once the patient is fully awake, he/she can have clear fluids.
  7. Patients can have mild soothing foods like yogurt, soup as having solid, spicy food after sedation could cause nausea.
  8. Patients who undergo conscious and deep sedation procedures must not move alone as the medicine might interfere with your control and coordination activities.