If you’ve been informed that your wisdom teeth have to come out, chances are good that you’re feeling a little anxious about the process. Among the more frequent ways patients express that anxiety is through questions about how much discomfort and pain will be involved and what sort of anesthesia will be used to address it during wisdom teeth removal.
Our oral surgeons offer a range of anesthesia options to ensure patient comfort during these procedures, depending upon the complexity of each surgery and the patient’s personal preferences and pain tolerance, as well as their level of anxiety.
Local anesthesia, during dental procedures, usually consists of the use of pain medication, typically novacaine, injected into the soft tissues to temporarily deaden the nerves, numbing the area in which work will be done. Used alone, this type of local anesthesia completely eliminates pain, but patients may still feel some pressure. For patients who are uncomfortable with that feeling of pressure, local anesthesia can be combined with nitrous oxide or other mild sedation techniques to lessen that feeling.
The mildest form of conscious sedation, nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas, is an inhaled anesthesia option, delivered via a nasal mask. This option is rarely used alone, since it is very mild. However, for wisdom teeth removal, Washington DC oral surgeons often use nitrous oxide in combination with local anesthesia, which can offer effective relief of pain and discomfort without the hang-over affects common to more potent options.
In oral pre-medication, patients are prescribed pills to take 30 minutes to an hour prior to wisdom teeth removal. Washington DC oral surgeons commonly prescribe drugs that include Valium, Halicon and Ativan for this purpose. Oral pre-medication is more effective than nitrous oxide, particularly for patients who are anxious during dental procedures. Patients who use this anesthesia option will need an escort to drive them to and from their oral surgeon’s office, since there generally is a hang-over effect with these medications.
Intravenous (I.V.) Sedation
Intravenous sedation, also commonly called twilight or conscious sedation, involves the use of sedatives administered directly into the bloodstream via an IV port, generally placed in the arm. While patients are generally not unconscious with this form of sedation, they are typically completely unaware of the procedure as it happens and, in many cases, have no memory of it once the anesthesia is cleared from the body. Local anesthesia is generally administered as well to ensure a pain-free experience during wisdom teeth removal. Washington DC patients who use IV sedation cannot drive for 24 hours after their procedures and will require assistance in getting home.
Knowing your basic options will make choosing the best one for you easier, since you’ll have a better idea of what each of them can do to ensure your comfort. However, deciding which is most suitable to your particular circumstances is best done with the input of your Washington DC oral surgeon. These matters should be discussed at your consultation appointment, with your options clearly explained. If you don’t understand those explanations, don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, ensuring your comfort and peace of mind during wisdom teeth removal is a priority for a good oral surgeon, since taking the time to do so will make surgery easier on both of you.
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For more information on all the anesthetic options that we offer, contact our office in the Washington, DC are at (202) 386-7100.