Can I Drive After Sedation Dentistry?
With sedation dentistry, more and more patients now prefer to get their dental treatment done under the effect of sedation due to its relaxing and comforting effect. However, one of the most common question tasked is “Will I be allowed to drive back home myself, or do I need to bring an attendant with me?”. The answer to this question lies in understanding the various degrees of sedation that are offered to dental patients.
Various Degrees of Sedation in Dentistry
Generally, there are three degrees of sedation in dentistry. The choice of each degree of sedation depends upon the anxiety level as well as the estimated duration of the procedure.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation Dentistry
During this type of sedation, the patient breathes through a mask which contains a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas. Nitrous oxide produces an immediate mild sedative effect on the patient which goes away immediately after the supply of the gas is discontinued. Patients who have been treated under inhalation sedation are usually allowed to drive back home, once they are fully awake and comfortable. Inhalation sedation is reserved for performing short procedures or for mildly anxious patients. Can I drive after sedation dentistry? Yes, if you have been sedated with Nitrous Oxide and have allowed 30-60minutes for the effects to fully wear off and are otherwise stable…i.e., not too worn out from procedure, etc.
Oral Sedation Dentistry
oral sedation is generally used for moderately apprehensive patients. Patients are asked to take an oral sedative agent once they arrive for their appointment. The effective of the intra-oral medication is more pronounced and prolonged as compared to inhalation. Therefore, these patients are not allowed to drive back home after their treatment. They are kept in the recovery room for some time observation, and are afterwards discharged in the care of a relative or friends who then drives them back.
IV Sedation Dentistry
IV sedation is reserved for extremely apprehensive, restless and anxious patients, or in cases where multiple time consuming procedures need to be performed in a single sitting or a patient has difficulty getting numb or has a severe gag reflex. Patients are administered with a sedative through an IV, which can lasts for up to 4 hours. Since the sedative effect of intra-venous drugs can be prolonged, patients remain groggy for many hours after the procedure has been performed, and are therefore kept in the recovery room until they are fully awake and oriented. Afterwards, they are discharged in the care of a loved one or friend and are not allowed to drive back home by themselves.
Generally, the most common sedation procedure used for routine patients is inhalation sedation. Therefore, most of the patients who have undergone treatment under inhalation sedation are allowed to drive themselves to their homes or offices. However, in case of oral or IV sedation, they are not allowed to drive or operate any heavy machinery.