For many patients, having their wisdom teeth extracted is necessary to alleviate pain, improve functionality, and prevent further damage to the jaw and surrounding teeth when the wisdom teeth start to grow out. However, just thinking about the procedure itself can make some people very nervous or anxious, leading to many patients waiting longer than they should when it comes to having their wisdom teeth removed. This can lead to further dental issues, including impacted teeth and infections. In cases where patients are particularly anxious or jumpy when it comes to having dental work done, it’s important to know the sedation options available that will ease some of this tension.
Is Wisdom Tooth Extraction Painful?
This is the most common question from patients before having their wisdom teeth removed: “Will it hurt?” As with any dental surgery, there will always be some mild discomfort associated with the procedure, but the dentist performing the surgery will take great care to make sure the patient doesn’t experience any actual pain. This is achieved through the use of anesthesia and sedation.
Part of the initial discomfort is the physical feeling of having tools and dental equipment in the mouth during the procedure. The other part is the emotional stress it can cause for some patients. In any case, patients should not feel physical pain during the procedure. The oral surgeon will confirm you are completely numb and relaxed before starting the surgery. The mildest level of sedation is generally the recommended method, but dental professionals understand there are special circumstances that will require further sedation.
What is Dental Sedation?
Dental sedation is a method used to block pain and help patients relax during a dental procedure. For a patient to receive the best dental care possible, sedation is often necessary during wisdom teeth extractions to ensure the patient remains calm and comfortable. Knowing the patient is not experiencing pain or anxiety during an extraction also allows the dentist to work more quickly and effectively, making sedation beneficial for both the patient and dental professional.
Although the overall intention of dental sedatives is to provide increased comfort to the patient and easier functionality to the dentist, there are different levels of sedation that are offered. Several factors are taken into consideration, such as the length of the procedure and your personal pain and anxiety threshold, before you and your dentist decide which sedation level is best for you. These levels range from minimal sedation to deep sedation. Minimal sedation will always be preferred because it reduces patients’ anxiety and pain reception while maintaining their ability to respond to the dentist’s instructions or questions if needed. Deep sedation is used less often for wisdom teeth extractions and only considered after mild or moderate sedation is ruled out.
Different Methods of Sedation
There are several ways patients can be sedated before having their wisdom teeth removed. Depending on the sedation level the dentist is trying to achieve, different methods can be applied. These options include:
This is the most common method of sedation used by dentists. It is often referred to as “laughing gas” and is taken by inhalation through an oxygen mask. This method offers an increased level of control over how aware a patient is because it has a fast application but also wears off quickly. Once it wears off, the patient is conscious and aware as if waking from a deep nap.
This sedative comes in the form of a pill and is commonly prescribed for light insomnia. The sedation effects come on quickly after taking the pill, but only last for one to two hours. This makes it an ideal option for dental procedures.
Typically used when deeper sedation is needed, a patient is administered sedatives through an IV that goes directly to the bloodstream. These sedatives work very quickly and are continuously monitored by the dentist. This provides increased control over how sedated a patient is during a procedure.
Is Sedation Necessary for Wisdom Teeth Extractions?
Although sedation is mandatory in some cases due to a patient’s anxiety level or the complexity of the procedure, sedation is not always needed. For very basic wisdom teeth extractions, some patients will only require local anesthesia before the surgery. This is an injection used to numb the area of the mouth which will be affected by the procedure. However, a patient that is fully aware during the surgery runs a higher risk of experiencing anxiety or discomfort while the wisdom tooth is being removed.
The best way to determine which sedation option is recommended for you is to speak to your dentist or oral surgeon. They will be able to assess how complicated your surgery will be, as well as your personal coping levels when having dental work done. Using this knowledge and their professional experience, they can determine which sedation level is necessary. It’s important to keep in mind that not all insurance plans cover sedatives and it could end up costing you more. Also, your dentist may not offer the sedation option you prefer, so be sure to ask about sedation methods before scheduling your wisdom tooth extraction.
For some individuals, the idea of having their wisdom teeth removed can be incredibly stressful or uncomfortable. Without sedation, it can be dangerous if patients happen to move unexpectedly or begin to panic during the surgery, leaving the dentist unable to complete the procedure properly. In these incidents, it’s often the best option to administer a sedative to the patient before the extraction, in addition to local anesthesia. However, all sedation options should be discussed with your dental professional to fully understand the risks of each method and the side effects you may experience from the sedation before making any decision.