With sedation dentistry, more and more patients now prefer to get their dental treatment done under sedation due to its relaxing and comforting effect. One of the most common question asked is “can I drive after sedation dentistry“, or do I need to bring a driver with me?”. The answer to this question lies in understanding the various degrees of sedation that are offered to dental patients.

The short answer: if you have been sedated with an oral sedation or an IV sedative you will need a driver to take you home. But if you have been sedated with nitrous oxide sedation aka laughing gas you can drive yourself back home and you do not need a driver. The difference is dental sedatives delivered through a gas mask are only in effect for a short period of time after breathing in and out and the effects of the gas sedation wear off in a very short period of time. Sedative drugs delivered orally or by way of IV take a much longer time to wear off and deliver a higher level of sedation. Due to the profound long lasting effects of IV and oral sedatives you will not be in a proper mental or physical state to drive for a 24 hour period of time.


can I drive after sedation dentistry


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 


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 oral sedative drug is more pronounced and prolonged as compared to inhalation or gas anesthesia such as laughing gas. 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 by the oral sedation dentist into the care of a relative or friends who then drives them back.


IV Sedation Dentistry


Best for wisdom tooth removal and multiple implant surgery. 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 IV 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 or nitrous oxide. 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 for a period of 24 hours.




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