Do You Need Local Or General Anesthesia For Your Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

Posted on: 30 January 2023

If you need to have some wisdom teeth extracted, you may be curious about what type of anesthetic and sedation you will need. The choice between local, intravenous, and general anesthesia can depend on your health history, your dentist's recommendations, and your preferences. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of each method.

Local Anesthesia

Some people may be surprised to learn that they can have wisdom teeth removed with local anesthesia. With a local anesthetic, like lidocaine or novocaine, you won't feel any pain during the procedure, but you will be awake for it. While patients shouldn't be in pain during the procedure, they will still feel pressure from the forceps.

One benefit of using a local anesthetic is that there are fewer operative risks, such as having an allergic reaction to the anesthetic. Patients also won't have to deal with the side effects of waking up, such as dizziness or nausea. Local anesthesia can be helpful for at-risk groups, such as people with sleep apnea or obesity, since there is no risk that breathing will be slowed by the anesthetic. Besides these benefits, an extraction under local anesthetic is usually more affordable than IV or general anesthesia.

However, local anesthesia isn't recommended for more complex cases, such as impacted teeth. Also, some patients may prefer IV or general anesthesia if they suffer from dental anxiety.

Intravenous (IV) Sedation

As the name suggests, a sedative is injected by vein during the wisdom tooth procedure. One benefit of IV sedation is that patients don't have to be awake for the procedure, but their recovery is quicker than under general anesthesia.

IV sedation is usually a good option for people that need to have all four wisdom teeth extracted in a single operation. If a patient has a low pain threshold, he or she may prefer IV sedation. One study found that pain levels were typically lower in patients that had an extraction under conscious sedation compared to local anesthetic alone.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is the deepest level of sedation and combines IV anesthesia with inhaled gases to sedate a patient. General anesthesia isn't usually used for wisdom tooth extractions, but there are some special cases. If a person has severe dental anxiety, a low pain tolerance, and/or impacted teeth with deep roots, then general anesthesia may be recommended. Like any other surgery, there can be complications with general anesthesia, so your dentist can help you weigh the risks.

Reach out to a dentist today to learn more about wisdom tooth removal and how to prepare for this procedure.