My friend has an upcoming appointment with a sedation dentist and she asked me to drive her. I don’t know what all she’s having done and I think it’s a bit rude to ask, but the gist is that she’ll be in the office for about two hours and they say it’s mandatory for her to have a driver. I’m apparently the only one who’s free. I find the whole thing a bit odd because I was given laughing gas at my last visit and felt totally fine after. Nobody mentioned anything about needing a driver and I certainly didn’t need one after. So, it comes down to either my friend blowing things out of proportion (which she’s prone to do) or my office let me drive after my appointment and they shouldn’t have. Which is it?
My guess at what is happening here is you both are talking about two different types of sedation.
There Are Multiple Forms of Dental Sedation
Dentists offer a variety of options to help people stay comfortable in the chair. On a very low level, you might have offices which offer spa amenities or a calming atmosphere, followed by nitrous oxide. On the other end of the spectrum would be oral conscious sedation or even an I.V. Sedation procedure. Some offices offer all three and work with patients to find out which level offers the ideal amount of support and others stick to the lower-level relaxation options for all patients.
You Shouldn’t Need a Driver if You Have Nitrous
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, has been a staple in dentistry for generations. The gas is delivered via mask and you’re awake and alert throughout the procedure. It’s a great option for those who have a bit of anxiety as well as those who have trouble getting numb. In short, it takes the edge off. When the procedure is over, the dentist switches the mixture over to oxygen and, within a couple of minutes, you’re back to your normal self. That in mind, you can drive home afterward and resume normal activities. It sounds like this is what you experienced.
You Do Need a Driver if You Have Oral Conscious Sedation
Generally speaking, the next two levels of dental sedation, oral conscious sedation (OCS) and IV sedation, require a driver. In either case, the medication stays in your body after the appointment and it can take some time for the effects to wear off. The length of time depends on the type of medication, dose, individual, and other factors, but it can range from a few hours to the rest of the day.
Obviously, that means driving is out. However, it’s usually better if the driver is someone who can stay with the patient for the rest of the day. A primary concern is that the person will try to get up and do too much while still a little off from the medication. Having someone there to help can prevent falls or injury. To a lesser degree, there may be concerns about reactions from the medication or interactions. So, if your friend is having OCS or IV, it would be prudent to stay with her after the appointment as well.
I hope this helps clear your worry about your procedure.
This blog is brought to you by La Jolla Dentist Dr. Stephen Doan.