The third set of molars, also called wisdom teeth, grow between ages 15 and 25. Many people often choose these large flat teeth to be extracted out because of the set of complications they could potentially lead to.
Wisdom teeth removal is major surgery and is done after administering anesthesia to numb the area. Sometimes sedatives are also employed to prevent possible anxiety. In this article, we cover all the details about the anesthesia given during the process. But first, let us take you through the procedure.
WISDOM TEETH EXTRACTION PROCEDURE:
Wisdom teeth removal is a complex procedure. How complicated the process is will depend on the positioning of the teeth. A lot of factors are considered when deciding how to proceed with the operation.
If the wisdom tooth is wholly erupted out of the gum, the process is simple and similar to any other tooth extraction. The area is numbed, and then the teeth are extracted out as a whole.
But in the majority of cases, wisdom teeth are completely or partially buried inside the gum. This is called impaction of wisdom teeth, and it is attributed to the lack of space in our mouth. When wisdom teeth start growing, our milk teeth are gone, and permanent teeth have already taken up the space. Therefore there is little to no space left for the proper growth and development of this third set of molars. Therefore, it either grows crooked, partially out of the gum, often at a horizontal angle or sideways, or, worst, it just wholly remains inside the soft tissue and jaw bone.
In case there is impaction, the process of extraction gets complicated. The doctor needs to cut through the gum and the bone to get to the tooth. To avoid cutting a lot of bone and to prevent a lot of blood loss, primarily, the tooth is not taken out in one piece. Instead, it is broken down and then extracted out, which adds to the pain.
You won’t experience any discomfort during the surgery because of anesthesia. However, you might feel some pressure as the doctor would rock your teeth back and forth to make some space in the socket so that it can be taken out with ease.
Your doctor would ask for x-rays to better examine the position of the teeth and then plan out the process. This operation usually takes up to 45 minutes.
TYPES OF ANESTHESIA GIVEN DURING WISDOM TEETH EXTRACTION:
Mainly two kinds of anesthetics are given during wisdom teeth removal; local and general anesthesia. Sometimes sedatives are also administered. Let us look into them in detail.
LOCAL ANESTHESIA: Usually, in most cases, a local anesthetic is sufficient for numbing the area and carrying out the process. Local anesthesia is a shot of drugs such as novocaine or lidocaine directly injected into the gums around the teeth. During the procedure, you remain conscious and don’t feel any pain. The only sensation is of pressure resulting from the rocking of the tooth, which makes space in the cavity.
Occasionally nitrous oxide is also given in combination with local anesthesia. You are supposed to breathe in the gas, and it is given to make you feel relaxed.
While the effects of local anesthesia remain for a few hours following the procedure, the effects of nitrous oxide go off as soon as the mask is removed. Therefore, this process has minimal side effects.
GENERAL ANESTHESIA: General anesthesia is used when the doctor wants to put you to sleep during the procedure. It is usually used in major operations. In wisdom teeth extraction, it is used when there is impaction, and the surgery is complicated. There is a chance of it continuing for a relatively more extended period, and hence general anesthesia becomes imperative.
With general anesthesia, although you should be able to go home the same day, it takes time for its effect to last, and so you should be accompanied by a friend or an attendant to take you home.
SEDATIVES: Sedatives are given to calm down the patients if they are scared and anxious. There are two types of sedatives:
IV sedation is a form of anesthesia, deeper and more profound, which involves the placement of an intravenous catheter. Medicine is titrated through it for relaxation. This makes you feel drowsy, and the patient is likely to fall asleep during the procedure.
The other sources of sedation are laughing gas (nitrogen oxide) and Vitriol.
PAIN AFTER WISDOM TEETH REMOVAL:
While after the administration of anesthesia, patients don’t feel any pain during the process, it is entirely normal to experience discomfort and pain once the anesthesia wears off. The extraction area is likely to be tender, and the pain might get intense in the first few hours post-surgery.
To counter the pain, your doctor would prescribe you pain killers like Paracetamol and Ibuprofen. These medications should be taken on time as per the prescription, and pain should keep in control. If medicines do not alleviate the pain and it gets unbearable, get in touch with your doctor to check if any secondary post-operational complications have developed.
RECOVERY AFTER WISDOM TEETH SURGERY:
Wisdom teeth extraction is a significant operation, and hence you should not expect to be up and running in a day or two. After the surgery, at minimum 3-4 days are required to recover fully. If the surgery was complicated, as in impacted teeth, you might require a week or more to recover. The wound left behind won’t get healed entirely for months, but you can safely resume work and other activities by taking proper care of your oral hygiene and following the doctor’s instructions.
The time frame we described above was for general situations only. A lot of factors influence the recovery process and can prolong healing, such as:
AGE: Age plays a huge role in determining the complications, risks, and recovery time after oral surgery. At an older age, jaws expand, bones become dense, roots are formed, and therefore, it requires a lot more involvement to pull the teeth out. The surgery is complicated, and due to that, the healing period is also relatively more than for younger people.
STRENUOUS EXERCISE: It is recommended by doctors to avoid doing hardcore exercises. It is a critical, complex surgery, and therefore, rest is crucial for healing.
SMOKING: Smoking can increase the risk of dry sockets, a hazardous condition involving dislodging the blood clot formed on the site, leaving the gum and nerve exposed to air. Apart from that, smoking also raises the chances of inflammation and therefore hinders the recovery process.
DRINKING FROM A STRAW: Drinking from the straw involves a forceful blow that could lead to dislodging of the blood clot formed on the extraction site. This blood clot is supposed to help with healing, and therefore using straws should be avoided for some time after surgery.
POST-OPERATIONAL COMPLICATIONS: Post-surgery complications like dry sockets, nerve injury, and inflammation can cause pain and further problems. If you develop any such issues, immediately get in touch with your doctor to get it treated to prevent worsening.
HOW TO CARE FOR TEETH AFTER SURGERY?
After surgery teeth care is different for different people. While the main do’s and don’ts are common to all, doctor’s instructions should be followed for particular conditions.
Removing wisdom teeth is a painful process, and you surely do not want to go through the same thing again with other teeth. With wisdom teeth in place, cleaning it with brush and floss is complex, and therefore, after its removal, maintaining oral hygiene should become easy.
Following are some steps to help you avoid wisdom teeth-related complications in the future.
MAINTAIN ORAL HYGIENE: This goes without saying that oral hygiene should be strictly taken care of after surgery. Regular brushing, flossing, and mouth wash can help prevent many complications like inflammation and bad breath. However, it is essential to note that brushing should not be done harshly against any blood clots because that can lead to dry sockets.
REGULAR DENTAL CHECKUPS: You should routinely visit your doctor to make sure no further problems are developing. This would also help ensure that your other teeth are healthy and overall your oral health is excellent.
LOOK FOR ANY POST-SURGERY HEALTH PROBLEMS: Post-surgery health issues usually develop a few days after the operation. Please discuss with your doctor all the possible risks and check with them in case you feel you are developing any of those problems.
INFORM YOUR DOCTOR OF ANY COMPLICATIONS: If you experience fever, vomiting, blood pressure, or any other health problem after surgery, do inform your dentist. Most people ignore them, mistaking them for normal. But these post-surgery issues should not be taken lightly because they can lead to further issues from which it might be challenging to recover.
Now you know the various options in anesthesia available for wisdom teeth surgery. Talk to your doctor and discuss with them whatever works for you. It goes without saying that you should inform your doctor of any current health conditions so that they calculate the risks and decide the best for you.