Posted by Dr. William Yoo
Sedation dentistry, or “sleep dentistry”, is often used for patients who have anxiety or fear about visiting the dentist. Even among adults, anxiety or even phobia about the dentist is common. Many people delay or fail to visit their dentist because of this fear, which can lead to poor oral health and problems such as gum disease or tooth decay. It’s a bit paradoxical because putting off visiting the dentist can actually lead to more severe dental problems, and eventually more procedures having to be performed to correct these.
Many patients wonder about the rules surrounding eating if they are having sedation dentistry. It’s very important to pay attention to your dentist’s rules on eating, as this can affect your procedure, or even make the sedation less effective. The rules about eating before and after sedation dentistry vary depending on the type of sedation used.
Here are the common types of sedation used, and their requirements about eating before and after:
Commonly known as “laughing gas”, this is a gas you breathe that helps relax you during a dental procedure. This is the mildest form of sedation. If you are given nitrous oxide, you may feel nauseous so it’s recommended you don’t eat for at least a few hours before the procedure. After receiving nitrous oxide, there are no dietary restrictions and you can eat as soon as you feel able.
Oral sedation can vary in dose and is taken in pill form. This will make you feel moderately to very drowsy. You should not eat anything for six hours before your appointment, unless told otherwise by your dentist. After the procedure, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. When you can eat afterwards depends on the procedure and type of sedation, so ask your dentist.
This is given through an intravenous drip, which allows the dentist to control the amount of sedation. This must be performed on an empty stomach, and nothing should be eaten for at least six hours before the procedure.
Deep sedation and General Anesthesia
During deep sedation, the patient will be totally unconscious, and will only awake once the effects of the anesthesia wear off. Similarly to IV sedation, you shouldn’t eat for at least six hours before your appointment.
While these are common guidelines, each case can vary. Be sure to ask your dentist about when to eat, before and after sedation dentistry.