Wisdom teeth extraction is a safe and well-established procedure that millions of people undergo every year. However, patients undergoing wisdom teeth extraction must make a crucial decision about which type of anesthesia they prefer—local or general anesthesia. To determine the best anesthesia option for wisdom teeth removal, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each.
Some factors to consider include the complexity of the procedure, the patient’s level of anxiety or fear, their medical history, and the need for postoperative pain management. Considering these aspects can help patients make an informed decision about which wisdom teeth removal anesthesia option will ultimately contribute to a smoother and more comfortable experience.
When is Wisdom Teeth Removal Necessary?
Wisdom teeth—the third and final molars—typically emerge during the late teenage years, ranging from 16 to 25 years of age (which is why they’re referred to as “wisdom” teeth). However, their appearance may vary between patients, with some experiencing early or delayed eruption, while others may never develop wisdom teeth at all. Not all individuals experience issues during the development of their wisdom teeth, but a common complication around this time is “impaction” where the teeth erupt at an angle that collides with the existing teeth. Impaction can lead to tooth misalignment and crowding, severe pain, dental cysts, or infections if left untreated, making extraction necessary.
When wisdom teeth extraction is recommended, it is best to do so before any problems occur. By removing the teeth early, before the roots are fully developed, the procedure can be performed with greater ease and a shorter recovery time. Early extraction can prevent potential dental complications like gum disease or damage to adjacent teeth. Therefore, it is crucial to schedule regular dental checkups to monitor the growth and development of wisdom teeth and detect any issues early on.
General Anesthesia vs. Local Anesthetic
If you’re wondering, “How bad is wisdom teeth removal without anesthesia?” rest assured you’ll never need to find out! Any wisdom teeth removal procedure will be done with either local or general anesthesia.
In cases where the extraction is relatively straightforward, local anesthesia like lidocaine can be injected near the tooth to numb the surrounding tissues. This can be sufficient to extract the tooth while allowing the patient to remain fully conscious and aware of any instructions. However, if the patient and dentist agree that general anesthesia is a better option, the patient will be “put to sleep” for the procedure, usually through the use of an intravenous (IV) injection. Some patients may also receive nitrous oxide as an oral sedative, which does not numb any sensation but does help alleviate anxiety.
By discussing the various options with their dentist, patients can make an informed decision that ensures a safe and comfortable wisdom teeth extraction experience. Overall, the type of wisdom teeth removal anesthesia used will depend on several different factors:
When deciding on the type of wisdom teeth anesthesia is best, cost implications can be a deciding factor for many patients. General anesthesia tends to be more expensive compared to wisdom teeth removal with local anesthesia, and some insurance policies may only cover the latter. You should discuss the cost implications with your dentist before the procedure to avoid any unexpected financial burden. Contact Great Basin Oral and Facial Surgery with any questions about the price of your procedure or limitations of your insurance.
Local anesthesia is less expensive, however, it is important to note that additional sedative options come with an extra cost. If you want to minimize costs and don’t suffer from dental anxiety, choosing a local anesthetic may be the most practical option. Since local anesthesia does not induce unconsciousness, it eliminates the need for extra medical personnel to monitor your condition during the procedure, which significantly reduces administrative costs.
The comfort level of the patient is a significant consideration when determining the type of sedation for wisdom teeth extraction. It is crucial to have a thorough discussion with the dentist to establish the most appropriate option. For shorter procedures, minimal sedation may be sufficient. However, if the patient has a high level of anxiety and low pain tolerance, a general anesthetic may be necessary.
It is always preferable to use the least amount of sedation required to manage the patient’s pain and anxiety while maintaining their ability to respond to the dentist. This approach minimizes the risk of complications ensuring the patient’s comfort throughout the procedure. Therefore, the patient’s specific needs and level of anxiety will play a significant role in determining the most appropriate form of sedation.
Assessing pain tolerance is a critical factor when selecting the appropriate type of anesthetic for wisdom teeth removal. However, even with this in mind, undergoing the procedure while awake should not be painful. While patients will feel the injection of the anesthetic, it is mild and quick—similar to any other shot. Typically, patients who are still conscious during the procedure may feel some pressure and pinching and are more likely to experience anxiety or fear than actual pain.
Therefore, there is no need to worry about your pain tolerance during the procedure as the dentist will always use at least a local anesthetic, if not a general anesthetic. Therefore, the main focus is on managing the patient’s anxiety and ensuring they have a positive experience.
The complexity of the wisdom teeth removal surgery procedure is another important consideration when deciding whether to use general or local anesthesia. Even if the tooth is not impacted, the procedure can take up to a few hours, which could necessitate the use of general anesthesia as a local anesthetic would wear off in that time. In addition, the method of extraction—whether the tooth can be removed in one piece or must be extracted in pieces—must be considered as the more fragmented the tooth, the more time-consuming the procedure will be.
Choosing the right type of wisdom teeth anesthesia for wisdom teeth removal is a personal decision that should be made after discussing it with your dentist. Factors such as your pain tolerance, budget, the complexity of the procedure, and the dentist’s recommendation should be considered before making a final decision, and it is important to follow the dentist’s pre-operative and post-operative instructions to ensure a smooth recovery. With the right wisdom teeth removal anesthesia and care, wisdom teeth removal can be a comfortable and stress-free procedure.
If you are in need of wisdom removal or have questions about which kind of anesthesia is right for you, contact the professionals at Great Basin Oral and Facial Surgery. Our team has years of experience providing quality oral care in a comfortable and stress-free setting. Call today to make an appointment and let us help you make the right decision for your care!