Part of preparing for a wisdom teeth removal procedure is knowing what to expect. On the day of your appointment your dentist will most likely ask that you not eat anything, or have a very light breakfast. You will need to have someone escort you to the office and drive you home, and you will need to take a day or two off of work depending on how involved your extraction will be.
Types of Extractions
A simple extraction is done on teeth that are fully erupted into the mouth. Usually only local anesthetic is used to numb the area around the tooth. Nitrous oxide may be used as well to help the patient relax and alleviate any anxiety that they are experiencing. During a simple extraction the tooth is taken out as a whole piece.
Surgical extractions are for removing teeth that are only partially erupted, unerupted or have become impacted. There is usually an incision in the gum area to retract the surrounding tissues so that the tooth can be exposed. The tooth is usually sectioned into multiple pieces so that it can easily be removed. Most of the time surgical extractions use general anesthesia so the patient is unaware of the procedure as it is being performed.
Types of Anesthetic, Sedation and Analgesia
Local anesthetic is the injection that dentists use to numb an area of the mouth during a wisdom teeth removal procedure. This type of anesthetic usually wears off after about 3 or 4 hours, providing more than enough time for the procedure to be completed. There will typically be some soreness at the sight of injection.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Nitrous oxide is one of the most commonly used analgesics in dentistry. It is very easy to administer and helps alleviate patient’s anxiety, nervousness and perception to pain during a wisdom teeth removal procedure. The patient usually has a very warm feeling and their fingers slightly tingle. In some cases nitrous oxide may be contraindicated, such as for patients that have sinus problems and are not able to breath well through their nose. Nitrous oxide wears off very quickly and usually leaves the person’s system within about 5 minutes.
Your dentist may offer oral sedation for your wisdom teeth removal procedure appointment. Usually these medications are taken exactly one hour prior to the appointment, and the patient is driven to the office and then back home by a friend. In some cases a 2nd pill or dose may be needed at the time of the appointment. Patients act very sleeping and respond when asked a question, but they are not alert and will usually not remember the procedure. It will take a few hours for the drug to quit working
IV sedation is very common in oral surgery offices and is typically a part of all wisdom teeth removal procedures that require surgical extractions in a specialist’s office. IV sedation is administered through a line in the arm and sets in very rapidly. The sedative flows through the system until the extraction is completed, when the medication is then turned off after the wisdom teeth removal procedure and the patient comes back into consciousness, fully alert. The patient will most likely still feel groggy and will need to be driven home by a family member or friend.
Every surgery or dental procedure has some risks associated with it. While these are not typically normal, they may occur on some occasions. Complications can range from nerve damage due to the relationship of the tooth roots to the nerve, or even fracture of the jaw due to a difficult extraction. To help prevent complications such as infection and dry socket, always be sure to follow home care instructions adequately.
- Dry socket
- Prolonged bleeding
- Nerve damage
- Swelling and/or bruising
- Difficulty opening the jaw
- Penetration of the nasal sinus
- Fracture of the jaw or bone structures
- Injury to adjacent teeth
- Remainder of root fragments