If your wisdom teeth are impacted, or your having discomfort in the back of your jaw, your dentist may recommend that you have them removed. Wisdom teeth removal is a simple surgical procedure that can help alleviate pain, improve functionality, and prevent further damage to the surrounding teeth.
The question that a lot of patients end up asking is if its prudent to remove their wisdom teeth under local anesthesia. In other words, is sedation dentistry absolutely necessary for the procedure? We will tackle this question, as well as explain why it may be beneficial to have your third molars extracted with basic local anesthesia.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the last four teeth to erupt at the back of the mouth. Also known as the third molars, these teeth erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. Due to their position, they may lack enough space to grow in the mouth and emerge at an angle or get trapped under your jaw or gums (these are known as impacted wisdom teeth).
Impacted wisdom teeth can form cysts and tumors within the jawbones, so it’s recommended that they be removed at an early age. They may also lead to infections that leads to pain, stiffness, swelling, or chronic bad breath. When this happens, your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal to alleviate pain and curb further damage to neighboring teeth and tissues.
Before the wisdom teeth are removed, your dentist or oral surgeon will use local anesthesia, and will recommend a variety of different sedation options. The choice of the type of anesthesia to be used depends on:
- The type of surgery involved
- Your current level of dental anxiety
- How long the surgery will take
- Current and previous medical conditions
- Your age, weight, and height
- Previous reactions to anesthesia
- Allergies that you might be have
Benefits Of Removing Wisdom Teeth With Just Local Anesthesia
Local anesthesia is a topically-applied or injected agent that causes temporary loss of sensation, such as pain in one part of the body. A dentist applies local anesthesia to numb the soft tissues and teeth, so that the teeth can be removed without any discomfort.
Unlike general anesthetics, local anesthetics don’t lead to loss of consciousness. This means that you’ll be awake throughout the entire process, and be able to communicate with your clinician during the treatment. A topical agent is first placed in the areas that are to be injected. After the topical anesthetic has performed its duty, your gum tissue is further numbed with a syringe normally containing an anesthetic like Lidocaine. After your wisdom teeth are numb, the clinician moves forward and removes the third molar. Remember that, although you may not feel pain during the procedure, you will feel pressure. The pressure sensation is not taken away with local anesthesia. However, there are many benefits of local anesthesia when compared to other sedation options:
Local anesthesia is generally less expensive than IV Sedation, laughing gas, or general anesthesia. These latter sedative agents come with an extra cost, so if you are looking to save money, and don’t suffer from dental anxiety, it may be prudent to have your wisdom teeth extracted with just local anesthetic. Local anesthesia will not render you unconscious, therefore eliminating the need for nurses and other support professionals that may be required to monitor your condition. This significantly reduces the administrative costs for the procedure.
You Can Drive Yourself Home
If you receive local anesthesia, it is usually safe to drive right away since the local anesthetic does not affect your cognitive abilities. However, since different people respond differently to the medication, it is crucial that you pay attention to your body’s response and make responsible driving choices.
Don’t Have To Be NPO For 8 Hours
Unlike general anesthesia, where you’re not allowed to eat or drink anything for 8 hours prior to your surgery, local anesthesia doesn’t affect your body’s reflexes. Therefore you can eat or drink as normal before your wisdom teeth removal procedure.
Can Return Back To Work Immediately
Local anesthesia has an impressive history in dental practice due to its ability to numb a small area where the procedure is being performed. You continue to be awake and conscious, and won’t need to recover from the anesthesia.
The anesthesia wears off quickly, and you will be able to go back to your regular routine immediately. After your wisdom teeth are extracted with the local anesthetic, you can go back to work immediately.
Benefits of having your wisdom teeth removed under general anesthesia
General anesthesia or IV Sedation present a lot of benefits when compared to local anesthesia. Some of the benefits include:
· Eliminates dental anxiety
· Better pain control
· Amnesic effect (you won’t remember the procedure)
· Less nausea
· Better management by the dentist
Side effects and complications of general anesthesia
A general anesthetic is not without its risk and side effects. Some of the possible complications of this type of anesthesia include:
· Pan on the injected area
· Muscle twitching
· Sore throat
· Infection at the injection site
· Short term memory loss
· Low blood pressure
· Blurred vision
· Allergic reaction to the anesthesia
Making a decision between removing your wisdom teeth with basic local anesthesia versus sedation dentistry is not an easy one. Ultimately, it will come down to your own anxiety and tolerance levels. Sit down and talk with your dental professional, so that the best decision can be made for your individual case.