I started seeing a gentle dentist for my dental anxiety. Sedation is supposed to calm your nerves, but I’m worried about getting it at my upcoming dentist’s appointment. I’ve heard it causes nausea, and the painkillers you get afterwards can cause drowsiness. Those two side-effects mixed together is a recipe for disaster. I’ve never had any adverse reactions to medications before, but I’m still worried. Is choking on your own vomit a risk after dental sedation? Or am I overthinking this?
Samira, Sterling, Colorado
Hi there Samira,
There are different levels of sedation and medication a dentist can provide.
The first is nitrous oxide, Also known as laughing gas. This is the sedation of choice for gentle dentists, because it works fast and wears off quickly afterwards, before you even leave the office. You may experience some nausea afterwards, but not necessarily vomiting. Most procedures using nitrous are relatively short, but the longer you are under sedation, however, the amount of nausea you may experience increases. To reduce this risk, don’t eat before your appointment.
The second is oral conscious sedation (OCS): This method uses nitrous oxide and an oral medication (like a sedative, anti-anxiety medication, or anti-histamine) prescribed by your dentist. The type of medication prescribed will depend on your dentist’s personal preference and which one best suits your needs; for instance, at Dr. Roper’s office, he prescribes Triazolam, a safe method of oral sedation.
It’s also recommended you have someone take you to your appointment and check in with you for a few hours after the appointment. Again, to combat nausea, your dentist will schedule you for a morning appointment, and instruct you to not eat the night before or morning of your appointment. Even with this stronger sedation, no cases of asphyxiation during sleep have occurred, so please do not worry.
In summation, nausea is a common side-effect of sedation, but vomiting is not. Talk to your doctor about your fears, and they should be able to give you advice on how to minimize your experience with side-effects.
This blog post is brought to you by Gilbert sedation dentist, Dr. Matthew Roper.