More like I need widsom insertion, amirite?
February 9, 2009 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Talk me down: Wisdom teeth removal and utter terror.

I have to have all four wisdom teeth removed. Due to the particulars of at least one of these teeth, I will need to undergo general anesthetic to have the procedure done. I am terrified -- so much so that I have put off having the surgery for almost a year even though it means that I am living with some level of constant pain.

Part of the fear is due to the fact that I watched the horror movie the dental surgeon's office shows to all their prospective patients -- the one showing exactly what could go wrong and listing all the terrible possible side effects (like permanent lack of sensation on the face, etc). But part of it is because I have never had general anesthetic before. Beyond being scared by stupid Dateline stories about people undergoing general anesthesia and being paralyzed but fully conscious of their pain, I'm also scared about complications, and worried about how I'll respond. Also, the last time I was given serious pain medication (percocet), I had a very severe reaction, and I don't want to experience that ever again.

Can someone talk me down? Has anyone had all four teeth extracted under general and emerged more-or-less unscathed? Does having had a psychotic reaction to percocet predispose me to a bad reaction to general anesthesia?

(This anonymous due to shame...)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (81 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I had all four out a few years ago. I too was put under. That was probably the most anxious part. I didn't feel a thing and the whole procedure went fine. I slept most of the day after the surgery, that anesthetic will keep out groggy for a good 4-6 hours after.

I never felt any pain from the surgery, and didn't even need an asprin after. The only pain I had was a slight ache in my jaw that lasted a few days. Wasn't even worth taking an asprin over. Even if you are a big weenie about pain, they'll give you a fistfull of vicodin to medicate with for a week or so. In all I was very suprised myself how much it didn't hurt.
posted by sanka at 1:27 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had all four of mine removed at the same time. Differences between your surgery and mine may include: 3 of the 4 had already grown in; they were not impacting any of my other teeth (my mouth was just too small); I was merely given local anesthesia on my gums; i only needed one stitch as only one of my teeth were partially covered with my gums.

Similarities: I too put it off for 4 or 5 years; I too watched that video and left in complete horror.

In the end, it wasn't at all bad. It did not hurt, I did not get dry socket, my face did not go numb, and though I was not put to sleep, I awoke once the surgery was over. I also got to listen to my iPod the entire time which I found comforting.

Seriously though, it is not at all as scary as the video makes you believe.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 1:29 PM on February 9, 2009

I did, over 10 years ago. All 4 at once with a general. Absolutely no problems (and I was probably on a high dose of Percocet when I walked in the door).
posted by K.P. at 1:30 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all of mine out and I was totally fine. Part of my gum was numb for a few months but now it seems to be totally fine. I actually really enjoyed the fact that I was under, it was so fast and painless that it felt like nothing happened at all (although the next few days aren't fun). The only side effect that I had was having dreams for the next year about being put under...which was weird, but not something to be concerned about compared to the risk of permanent damage to your teeth if you leave your wisdom teeth in too long.
posted by Grimble at 1:31 PM on February 9, 2009

Has anyone had all four teeth extracted under general and emerged more-or-less unscathed?

Yes. My experience was like this

- go into office totally petrified with hurting mouth and hungry (because of not eating right before getting general)
- get general anaesthetic
- close eyes
- open eyes (it literally feels instant) feeling nauseated (this is normal but I didn't like it)
- go home, mouth hurts, take pain meds, chew on wet tea bags
- two days later MOUTH STOPS HURTING. It was incredible.

I can't speak to the percocet or anything else. What do you mean by "severe reaction"?
posted by jessamyn at 1:32 PM on February 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

I had 2 of my wisdom teeth out with a local, and one with a general. The general was so much awesomer. No problems at all. It was even almost fun.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:32 PM on February 9, 2009

Yep, all four out under a short-acting general anesthetic. A friend drove me home because I was entertainingly loopy when I woke up.

The whole thing took less than half an hour. I had no pain that day (a sort of general achyness in my jaw, but no OUCH pain). It throbbed the next day. Then it was all over.

Get a friend to come pick you up afterwards, and have them take notes when the aftercare is being discussed. If they can hang out with you at home for a bit until you're really with it again, even better.

Really. It was fine. I'd scheduled three days off from work because that seemed to be the consensus of what I'd need, but I could have gone back to work the next day. Chewing was kind of weird, once I was allowed solid food again, and it was really hard to not run my tongue over the places where the teeth used to be, but those were the two most difficult things about the surgery.
posted by rtha at 1:33 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all four of mine out at once in my early 20's. I was laid up for 4 or 5 days afterwards, but no lasting effects.

General anesthetic. When I came to, there was still a bite block in my mouth.

(I got mine at cost. I ran into a guy who used to torment me in elementary school. He had become an oral surgeon, and I had been having wisdom tooth problems, and when I mentioned this, he offered to do it at his cost, he said, to make up for how he had treated me.)
posted by Danf at 1:33 PM on February 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

Please know that I had such unbelievable terror about having my wisdom teeth out that after they froze me (I had it done with local), I spent the next hour vomiting in the dentist chair from an anxiety attack. So just wanted you to know you're not alone there. (Also - I was in my mid-20s.)

Tell the dentist beforehand about the percocet reaction. I took a friend to the dentist for wisdom teeth removal under general anesthesia and the most difficult part was getting her in the car afterward. She remembered nothing and only needed to take ibuprofen even after 2 impacted teeth. So don't think you'll necessarily need to be doped up. I'm sure others here can provide alternative pain meds to the percocet too.
posted by meerkatty at 1:33 PM on February 9, 2009

I have had all four of my wisdom teeth surgically removed, because they were all impacted. I was nervous when I had my first one taken out. [I had 1 taken out at first, then a couple years later, I had the other three removed.]

They put me under, and then when I woke up, they already moved me to the recovery room, and apparently I was there for 10-15 before I woke up. They gave me a little extra because it took them longer than they anticipated. I didn't even notice that they moved me into the recovery room before I woke up.

I was in pain, the day after the surgery. They give you antibiotics, and some painkillers. I basically slept it off, and put ice on and off my face for a week. I did have a nice bruise under my jaw, that I didn't see until I went to the surgeon for a check up.
posted by QueenHawkeye at 1:33 PM on February 9, 2009

I wouldn't worry about it.

I did this when I was around 17 - four impacted wisdom teeth removed while under a general. The last thing I remember was the dentist looking at me to see if I was asleep yet. Everything went black. Next thing I know, I'm on a cot, recovering. I had some soreness afterwards and had to be careful with what I ate (nothing small/hard/crumbly for a little while, if I recall). I do remember he gave me a prescription for Co-Tylenol, but I didn't use it.

My wife has had to go under a general a couple of times and recounts a similar sensation - you're falling asleep, and then you're waking up. Frankly, the worst of it for her was coming out of it - the temporary grogginess, etc. I've watched one of our kids go under - twice - and it looked like the same sort of deal.

As regards the percocet, you'd need to check with a doctor. You would obviously want to discuss this with the dentist/oral surgeon as well.
posted by jquinby at 1:33 PM on February 9, 2009

I had them all out at once under general and it was totally fine. I don't even remember pain afterward or anything really uncomfortable. The anesthesia was great. You might wish to let your dentist/oral surgeon know about your fears so that they can take special care to explain everything as they're doing it and be sensitive to your concerns. You'll be fine!!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:34 PM on February 9, 2009

Oh, and I should add: my terror was totally unwarranted. It was fine and I went to work the next day.
posted by meerkatty at 1:34 PM on February 9, 2009

I'm pretty sure everybody I know has been under general anesthesia at some point or another. Certainly all the members of my immediate family have, in some cases multiple times, and all 8 of the friends I had dinner with last night. And we were all totally fine.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:35 PM on February 9, 2009

I have. They put me out and I woke up all swollen and feeling weird. Had an uncomfortable next couple days, but other than that, it really wasnt any big deal. Stayed home from work and got catered to - it was great ;-) Your allergy to percoset can be accounted for (you have, of course, told your oral surgeon?). Lots of other painkillers out there. Seriously, I understand your concerns but its really nothing to be worried about.

And to hopefully make you feel better, I had a girlfriend several years ago who had all hers removed and they hadnt even erupted yet. She didnt even need time off. She was smiling and moving about the same day trying to fool around with me. I felt like a big baby compared to her.

You'll be fine.
posted by elendil71 at 1:35 PM on February 9, 2009

Oh, and I got mine taken out when I was 12 [i think, somewhere around that age], and 16, when I got the remaining three out.
posted by QueenHawkeye at 1:36 PM on February 9, 2009

Listen: this is an incredibly routine procedure. Your oral surgeon probably does a dozen of these every week or two, and about 4 million Americans have this done every year, the vast majority of whom suffer no permanent ill effects.

Furthermore, they almost certainly aren't going to do general anesthesia. They can't. General involves putting you all the way down, to the point that you stop breathing and need a respirator. That's not what's gonna happen. They are indeed going to knock you out, for which you should be eternally grateful, but they aren't going to do general because they kind of need to work in your mouth, you know? A breathing tube would make that complicated. As a matter of fact, must surgeries, even those where the patient is unconscious, don't involve general anesthesia, as it's an unnecessarily risky thing to do when, as the case most of the time, normal sedation will work just fine.

I had all four of my teeth taken out at once when I was a teenager. Apparently I wouldn't shut up after they dosed me so they had to give me a little more gas than usual, so I was wiped out for a few days, but I was just about completely back to normal within a week or so, which is actually a bit longer than average.

You're gonna be okay. You're gonna take a few days off of work, stock up on DVDs and pudding, feel like crap for a while, and be back on your feet before you know it. And afterwards, your teeth will stop hurting.
posted by valkyryn at 1:37 PM on February 9, 2009

Oh man, that video about the horrors of dry socket and all that? I remember being freaked out by that too. And that anesthesia paralysis scares me as well.

Getting all my wisdom teeth out was the first and only time I've ever had general anesthetic, plus I had novocaine and laughing gas on top of it. I was out like a light for the whole procedure, zonked out again on the trip home (MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SOMEONE TO DRIVE YOU HOME AND PUT YOU TO BED AFTER THE SURGERY!), and spent the rest of the day in bed, alternating between napping and smearing pudding on my cheeks because I couldn't find my mouth. As I remember, I was back to normal by that evening, with no pain or complications or side effects.

You will be absolutely fine.

I can't speak to whether the percocet reaction will have any bearing on how you get through this, but that is something you definitely need to tell your oral surgeon about if you haven't already.

If it helps you, you might consider framing the anesthetic in a more positive light. I actually looked forward to having my wisdom teeth out because a classmate of mine described the anesthetic as "trippy" - she didn't remember a thing, but apparently she babbled at length about random stuff after the surgery.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:37 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all 4 out on the same day, roughly 15 years ago, under general anesthetic. Due to a bit of an issue with me and needles, I was on 10mg of valium when I hit the door, which was affecting me physically (dizzy, no concept of down, etc), but not doing terribly much mentally (still beating my dad at a math-based puzzle game on his palm pilot). Watched the IV go in, looked at the doctor... who turned into a nurse pulling gauze out of my mouth, and we were done. I felt a little groggy for a few hours but was otherwise fine. Highly recommended to do the general rather than trying to stay awake.

My sister had exactly the same procedure, minus the valium, earlier in that same day. She shared your worries re: paralysis, which turned out to be pretty much baseless. She was fine enough to go to a block party that same night, and was out until 2am.

Oh, did I mention this was all New Year's Eve? My parents have a sick sense of humor sometimes.
posted by Phineas Rhyne at 1:37 PM on February 9, 2009

I had them removed while in high school, under general anaesthetic. It wasn't painful at all, and going under was kind of neat. Also, the high-powered painkillers I was given afterwards were quite spectacular (wish I'd kept a couple for future use!).
posted by Pomo at 1:39 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all four wisdoms done at once, just not under general. It went well. I was gassed into another dimension and loaded with procaine (or whatever they used to numb my mouth) Got a script for percodan for my troubles.

However, I have been put under general for other medical procedures and I actually find it enjoyable. I sort of like the odd, semi-intellectual conundrum of having merely blinked my eyes and losing an hour or my life. It's pretty stunning.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:40 PM on February 9, 2009

(Forgot to add) A year or so ago, my fiance had all of hers out. One a week. For four weeks. Under nothing but local. I have never seen someone undergo so much suffering, -just- to avoid getting knocked out. At the end of it, she told me she'd have taken general if she'd known what the alternative was like.
posted by Phineas Rhyne at 1:40 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all four out. I had one out originally when I was in pain, and then three later. Due to other medical reasons, I couldn't be put under totally though I did get a lot of systemic analgesics and Valium-type stuff. I had one tooth snaggled around the jaw of my upper mandible and the bone actually had to be cracked to remove it. I was conscious for this.

And you know what? It didn't hurt at all. I laughed at the popping noise. I didn't feel a thing and I was sedated enough that I had a brief, calm conversation with the oral surgeon about it and he explained to me what happened. I made a total recovery within a few days (no swelling after then and no pain at all after the operation). I had a piece of wire that was placed around my newly rearmost molar to help the jaw heal removed after three months, and that felt like flossing.

I've also had real general anesthesia on other occasions and had numbness in a leg lasting about a week and made a full recovery; I even had general several times as a small infant. So far I've had no adverse consequences despite being at high risk for negative outcomes due to other medical factors at the times I was put under.

To sum up: I had a huge amount of heavy drugs pumped into my system but remained conscious for a pretty complex and scary multiple extraction. This strikes me as about the worst case scenario, and all in all it wasn't bad at all. I had truly minor pain and no fear at all, and my recovery was very fast.

Your experience will in all likelihood be FAR easier, and your oral surgeon and his/her staff have a lot of experience in managing pain and anxiety chemically and with explaining to you what's going. It looks very scary from this side of the extraction timeline, but literally 10 minutes after you exit the recovery room - where you'll be for 30 mins-1 hour so they can monitor any pain and make sure the initial dressings are secure - you'll be laughing at how surreal and painless the experience was.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:41 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all mine out with general anesthesia when I was a teenager. I was scared, too, but it really was a blink and you'll miss it kind of experience. Have you seen that video floating around of the little dude who just got done at the dentist and now he's totally high? That's what it's like when it's over. My worst side effect was being convinced that my lip wasn't going to get feeling back, because, you know, I was high and obsessive. I pinched it so hard on the ride home that I had fingernail shaped bruises, but other than that everything was okay.
posted by sugarfish at 1:41 PM on February 9, 2009

If it's the general anaesthesia that has you most spooked, there's another alternative -- I was similarly spooked by general anaesthesia for my wisdom teeth extraction -- I also got all four out at once -- and mentioned that to my doctor, but said that a local was also freaking me out.

They suggested something they called "twilight sleep," which they then described as, basically, they give you a TON of sedatives and novacaine. I'd probably fall asleep, they said, but even if I didn't, I'd be so completely out of it I wouldn't CARE what they were doing. And, they said, it has a sort of amnesiac effect, so also wouldn't remember much of what had happened. When they finished telling me that, the only question I had left was whether I could listen to pyschedelic rock while they were working, and they laughed and said sure and I said I was sold.

I honestly don't remember a damn thing about the actual removal at all. My then-boyfriend was taking care of driving me to and from the surgery; I remember going into the procedure room, being hooked up to the IV, then the doctor coming in with this freaky-looking miners' mask thing, I remember them turning on the IV drip, I remember asking someone to turn my walkman on for me (which had TRAFFIC'S greatest hits on it, if memory serves), and then I remember someone starting to give me the Novacaine and me trying to say I hadn't gone under yet...

...and then the next thing I have ANY memory of is being in a wheelchair in the parking lot with a candy striper next to me while we waited for my boyfriend to get the car. The next CLEAR memory I have is of coming to on the couch at home staring at Woody Allen's face on the TV because my boyfriend had gotten bored and turned on SLEEPER.

I didn't even use the Codeine they'd sent me home with -- I tried to get it down but it made me sick to my stomach, so I just stuck to over-the-counter Tylenol and icing my jaw down with near-religious fervor. 24 hours later I was only a little sore, but had very little swelling.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:42 PM on February 9, 2009

Here's some more anecdotal evidence to help. I had mine out last September (all 4). My surgeon gave me nitrous before they put the general sedative into the IV, and I felt like the nitrous alone was about to put me to sleep. They put in the general anesthetic and I fell asleep, woke up what seemed an instant later (just like jessamyn said).

My wife took me to the pharmacy where we filled the painkiller scrip. I took one, went home and went to sleep. I woke up a few hours later and took some ibuprofen at the appropriate time (surgeon told me a certain time). When it came time to take the next pain killer, I felt I was doing fine, so I decided I'd wait to take it. I ended up not taking another one and just took the appropriate amounts of ibuprofen at appropriate intervals for the next couple days.

Even without the painkillers it took me a few days to really get back in the swing of things intellectually (I went to Logic seminar a couple days after the surgery and I felt a little slower than usual), but really I felt pretty good throughout the whole experience.
posted by chndrcks at 1:42 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all four out when I was around eighteen or nineteen, as they decided to come in sideways. (Orthodontist looking at x-rays: "Aarrgh!") Had anesthesia, fell asleep, woke up and was groggy (but still managed to beat my mother twice at Scrabble that evening), said "ouch" for a couple of days, lived happily ever after.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:43 PM on February 9, 2009

I had my wisdom teeth removed under "twilight" anesthesia. I don't think I was ever unconscious, but I wasn't totally awake either. It was basically like a blank period in my memory; I remember counting out loud, and then the next clear memory was post-extraction and my wisdom teeth were gone. My only memories of the actual procedure are brief little flashes of hearing things like "I think he needs a little more anesthetic" and "You really shouldn't be talking while we're doing this." My face was a little numb for a few hours after the procedure and my gums bled for a couple days afterwards. I had a wisdom tooth that had partially erupted, so the socket couldn't be sewn shut; that particular spot bled the most. Other than that, I had no other complications. I didn't even use the Vicodin that they gave me.
posted by strangecargo at 1:47 PM on February 9, 2009

I also had all four out and had general. No problems and I ate out (Middle Eastern, granted, hummus wasn't too difficult) that night.

Mine were all bony impacted (whatever that means) and still no prob. The moment right before you go under is groovy.
posted by Pax at 1:48 PM on February 9, 2009

I was under IV sedation (as someone else pointed out, I'm sure that's what you mean by "general" in this case) for all four teeth.

Is "impacted" when they're still under your jawbone? If so, all four of mine were impacted.

No real problems. I greatly dislike Percocet as well, and while I wouldn't call my reaction to it psychotic, I will never take it again for any reason. Memail me if you want to discuss that. But I can take Vicodin without any problems. You might just mention you've had an unpleasant experience with a that particular painkiller and ask if there's any other alternative.
posted by peep at 1:49 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all 4 taken out and was given anesthetic.

I counted down from 5 and before landing on 2 the doctor said "Okay, we're done!"

I was confused for a second, then realized that anesthesia was awesome.

I used only ibuprofen for pain, which was never bad, but had a prescription for opiates.

The only hard part in the entire process was the shame of walking around looking like a chipmunk for a week

It's no big deal.

Don't sweat it!
posted by bradly at 1:50 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all 4 taken out under general anesthetic when I was 15. It was a piece of cake, absolutely no problems. The anesthetic process was like nothing at all - they just stuck a tiny IV in the back of my hand, told me to count backwards from 10, I think I hit 7 and was out instantly. I had pain meds to spare and was back to riding my bike around town after a few days of delicious McDonald's shakes. No dry sockets, either.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:51 PM on February 9, 2009

I had it done when I was around 14. It's not a big deal.

Yes, I was nervous. They put the mask on your face and have you count backwards from 10. I specifically remember counting 10, 9, 8... then waking up.

The worst part of surgery day was upon waking up, I had the urge to just get up off the bed. They had to hold me down a little and talk me into lying still. Not a huge deal, but it's disorienting. Not like waking from normal sleep.

Afterwards there was little pain, but some tenderness, and a mild ache that went away in less than a day. Watch what you eat, be careful, but it wasn't a big deal for me.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:52 PM on February 9, 2009

oh... and an awesome conversation about the dangers of pirates with the nurses after surgery. yeah. the anesthetic served me well.
posted by bradly at 1:54 PM on February 9, 2009

The great thing about general anaesthetic is that you will just go to sleep. So you'll be spared all the things that people hear during the extractions. It's likely that if you ask, the dentist will be able to stitch the sockets for you, which will immediately deal with the majority of the very minor bleeding that you can expect afterwards.

They won't put you under general if they think you'll react at all badly to it. They are of the medical profession, after all!

About all you will experience will be some bleeding which will last for a few hours, some tenderness, and inability to eat 'proper' meals for a couple of weeks.

Advice: no mouthwashing or teeth brushing for the first couple of days. No drinking anything with a straw. Soft soft food or soups only. Nothing which is actually HOT. You don't want to dislodge the blood-clots. If you get stitches, you probably won't be able to dislodge them anyway, but I have a feeling you'll be inclined to be ultra-safe about things.

After the first day / day-and-a-half, you can start with warm salt water as a mouthwash, but don't swoosh it around. Just hold it in your mouth and tilt your head around to get it to gently flow into and out of the sockets. It's a natural antiseptic and will work well. If you want to be extra-extra careful, use it for a week before graduating to non-alcohol mouthwash.

And don't ruin your life for weeks on end by constantly trying to check up on your mouth in the mirror! You will feel tender and maybe need over-the-counter pain relief, but that's expected and not a cause for alarm. You will be fine.
posted by paperpete at 1:54 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all four done at once, when I was about 20, and I was a pretty tough case. I can't recall exactly what the deal was but they assured me it wasn't run of the mill. I had to be put under.

It was interesting, too. They brought me in and hooked me up to some stuff, and then, I guess in place of asking me to count down from ten to see when I lost consciousness, they started talking about genocidal dictators. Really! The nurse said, "Well Hitler is the big one, sure!" and the doctor said, "yes, but look at Stalin! He was no slouch either." and the anesthesiologist said, "And what was that guy's name who killed all those people in Cambodia?" and they all looked at each other, puzzled but jolly, saying "Hmmm...", trying to remember the name.

I was blacking out at this point, but I managed to sit up and blurt out, "Pol Pot!", a bit more loudly than was polite, I'm afraid. They all turned to look at me, with odd expressions, and I lost consciousness.

Several years later, I was telling that story for the hundredth time. I mean, what a crazy conversation they were having. Then I realised - they weren't having that conversation at all! I was just blasted out of my mind and concocted that conversation based on, well, the fact that I was being strapped down and drugged and cut open. Brains are neat like that.

But, yeah. the fact that I imagined the conversation sheds light on their reactions when I sat up and yelled "Pol Pot!" at them.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:55 PM on February 9, 2009 [14 favorites]

All four of mine were fully impacted. The surgery bit was not scary (they gave me Valium or something similar to take the day of). I don't remember much except the mask and then walking out to the car afterward. The recovery was not bad either, although flushing the food out of the sockets got old really quickly. The only appreciable pain occurred 2 days later when I went back to my summer job (looking like a chipmunk) and failed to take my pain medicine on time due to an inconvenient break schedule. That felt like a bad headache in my jaw, but nothing impossible to deal with.
posted by Knicke at 1:57 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all four taken out at once, and specifically requested to be put under because the halfway thing freaks me out way more than general anesthesia. My teeth were all sideways and diagonal and impacted and they had to go in there and chip them out piece by piece.

The worst part was the pain pills afterwards making me nauseous. All I remember about the anesthesia administration was that I was already a little faint and light headed from not eating beforehand, so I didn't feel all that different when they told me to count back from twenty. It took me about a week to heal.

My brother had all his teeth out under general anesthesia but his were simply pulled straight out. He had the surgery one day, and went to Busch Gardens the next day! He didn't even bother with more than tylenol, and ate freaking pretzels and whatever while going on rollercoasters.
posted by Mizu at 1:58 PM on February 9, 2009

General anaesthesia is not always the same thing. If your experience is like mine was (back a billion years ago), you can expect to receive a very different cocktail of drugs as your "general anaesthetic" than you would if you were going in for abdominal or chest surgery.

When I had my teeth out, I was told my general would consist of: enough sedatives to knock me out, and a local. That is all. NOT the same as getting chest surgery where they paralyze you and drop you an inch above death.

My experience, for all four out at once: nitrous, an IV, unconsciousness, grogginess in a waiting/recovery room, went home. Never any pain whatsoever. I took the tylenol-3's they gave me for a day or two just in case, but never a twinge. No swelling at all. A+++ would recommend.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:00 PM on February 9, 2009

I had my wisdom teeth extracted, along with four other teeth, when I was about 15 or 16. Yes, you read that right -- 8 teeth pulled at once. That's 25%!

Anyway, I don't recall my level of anxiety going into it, but I don't think it was very severe. They put the mask over my face, told me to count backwards from 100, and I was out by the time I got to 96. I woke up in the recovery room, and my mom drove me home. I had trouble staying awake for a few hours afterward, and had to keep tea-soaked gauze in my mouth to stem the (normal) bleeding, but that was about the extent of it. I was never in very much pain -- Advil was fine, so I never took any of the prescription painkillers.

Just express your concerns to the dentist/oral surgeon, and I'm sure he will be able to reassure and/or accomodate you.
posted by Nothlit at 2:03 PM on February 9, 2009

I had largely the same experience as jessamyn, except I didn't even need the codine they gave me ('free' narcotics woo-hoo!!!). I was even eating regular food in a couple days.

my experience:
  1. Get IV put in
  2. Nurse/Anesthesiologist says "We are starting the drip now, your feet might start to feel a little cold."
  3. wake up groggy with gauze in my mouth
  4. get driven home and sleep for 18 hours

posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:03 PM on February 9, 2009

One thing to remember is to absolutely have someone with you at the pharmacy to pick up your prescriptions. I had a devil of a time trying to get the clerk to understand that my street address was 1725 Westerwald with slightly still numb lips.

Other than a wee case of dry socket that was probably my own fault for eating chicken noodle soup, I had all four out under general and was just fine. I even had an infection in my jaw prior to surgery and one tooth that had chosen to lay right the hell down and grow in sideways and it was minimal drama. I did lose a little weight though because soft foods weren't all that appetizing. Also, don't watch tv commercials during the recovery period. Because every freaking commercial will be for something crunchy and awesome that you can not have.
posted by teleri025 at 2:05 PM on February 9, 2009

I had my teeth taken out a few years back. I was a little worried because this happened when I was much older than most people are when they get their wisdom teeth out (I was in my late 20s).

I was freaked about the general, too, just because I'm prone to freak out about things and generally like being in control (oh, and i had to watch/was greatly annoyed at being scared by that movie, too. I understand its function, but I would have voted against the poodle-permed woman/charles in charge's stand-in asking questions to the camera man-on-the-street style and the ridiculous actor who played the dentist as if he really felt very kingly and geniusy in that role.)

But it was so easy -- there was the count down, and then I woke up very shortly thereafter, away from the room where my teeth were taken out. I was thrilled that it was so easy, and so over. Follow the good advice of mefites on what to drink and such, and you'll be fine. (Seems I took more painkillers than most, but I still have a bunch leftover.)
posted by theefixedstars at 2:11 PM on February 9, 2009

I've had teeth pulled with just local and I've had wisdoms out with general or twilight sleep. I can tell you that the latter was infinitely preferable. The only caution I have is a minor one: two of my friends got their wisdoms out the same week I did (spring break of our senior year -- we were living the high life, we were) and they ignored the doctors' precautions about keeping ice on the area, etc. They were in much more pain much longer than I was; I got sick of pudding after a few days but otherwise was fine and in very very little pain.
Also, I don't know what your reaction to percocet was, but I tend to have severe stomach problems with vicodin/percocet/other pain pills -- EXCEPT when I really need them. So after my wisdom teeth I took the first 2 or 3 doses, then switched to ibuprofen when it started bugging my stomach. I've had the same experience with a couple of other surgeries; so if your previous experience with percocet was for a less serious injury/surgery, you might be okay with it now. But talk to your doctor. They know all about these things.
posted by katemonster at 2:12 PM on February 9, 2009

Here's an additional note you should know that I haven't seen anyone yet mention: painkillers (like Percocet) and anesthetic are two very different things. You'll be dealing with anesthesia only.

In addition, I'm not sure anesthesia awareness will be an issue with you, as even if you were among the .0015% of the population that's affected by that, you may be given local anesthetic for your jawline, so you're not going to feel any sensation from that area anyhow.

Don't hesitate to bring these issues up with your dentist, either. If his or her answers aren't satisfactory, or if you feel they're not addressing your concerns, find someone else. But, above all, get that surgery pronto. Getting wisdom teeth out is cake compared to the dental surgery that would be required if you leave them in.
posted by greenland at 2:20 PM on February 9, 2009

I had mine out under anesthesia about four years ago. My knees were knocking together as I climbed into the chair, literally--it was a weird feeling. They put in the IV, asked me to count to ten, and the next thing I knew I woke up, totally embarrassed that I'd fallen asleep in the dentist's chair. It wasn't even like sleeping, it was like just not even existing for that amount of time--awesome.

A friend recently woke during surgery and I was horrified but she said it really wasn't that bad--she had awareness but no pain, waved her hand to alert the nurse she was waking up, and they pushed more anesthesia through to her and she went right back out. Don't know if that helps or makes it worse--yes, people do wake up during surgery, but it's terrifically uncommon (in my friend's case, she is morbidly obese which likely contributed to her situation in terms of dosages) and even if it did happen, it's something you can survive.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about your fears--you are not the first patient they've met who has them.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:26 PM on February 9, 2009

I had 3 out (I have no 4th, yay!) under sedation. I came out, read Sherlock Holmes (annotated!), ate food, and puked because I shouldn't've eaten food that early.

I also, for completely unrelated reasons, had both my jaws broken while under general anaesthetic. I was TERRIFIED of the anaesthetic, to the point of crying outside of my OR while I was all alone as I waited to be let in. The surgery lasted many times longer than a wisdom tooth extraction. I still have 30 screws in my jaw.

I was fine. I didn't even take any painkillers in the hospital (I was there for 3 days), at first because I couldn't keep it down (really potent tasting liquid tylenol... never again after surgery!), then because I didn't need it. (I did have steroids, but due to miscommunication, I got all of my steroids in the first night).

Good luck! Chances are, you'll be fine.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 2:30 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all four out under general anaesthetic. No problems. Got sick of eating applesauce after about day three, but no other complaints. (I guess I healed slower than a lot of the other people in this thread, but still, it's doesn't even rate on my list of "unpleasant experiences.")

The drugs in anaethesia aren't narcotics, so any reaction to a narcotic isn't going to tell you anything about how you'll react to general anaesthesia. As for painkillers, you can always request Vicodin if you know that Percoset makes you mental.

Also: I'll say that I had a much, MUCH better experience getting them all done at once while being totally knocked out than my ex did when he had his taken out one at a time (over a period of two years) with just a local anaesthetic. He was in far, far more pain than I had been.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:43 PM on February 9, 2009

I had my wisdom teeth removed two weeks ago. I definitely underestimated the time it would take me to recover (I am 32, which apparently makes a difference; most people get this done in their late teens or early twenties), but the procedure itself was nothing to worry about.

The surgeon's office gave me a sedative pill to take the morning of the procedure. Half an hour later, I felt completely chilled out, fear and anxiety unreachably far away. Fears of invasive dental procedures are common and your doctor has undoubtedly dealt with this before; don't be shy about asking for xanax or something like it.

General anaesthetic goes like this: you sit down in the chair, all mellow and unconcerned from the abovementioned sedative, and various people scurry around doing unimportant things while you chill out and let your mind wander. Eventually someone mentions that they are starting the anaesthetic. You think, hmm, what will this feel like? A moment later, you wake up, feeling groggy and a bit disoriented. It's over, just like that. Drugs are magic.

The loss of control during general anaesthetic sounds scary when you are thinking about it ahead of time, but it is no big deal at all when you go through it. It's over too quickly to really notice, and you will have more immediate things to think about during recovery. The idea of waking up during the procedure is really scary, but it almost certainly won't happen. Even if you did wake up, you'd still be heavily drugged - the anaesthetic will block pain for hours after your consciousness has started to return.

The procedure is going to be a lot easier than you are fearing. Wisdom tooth removal is routine. Millions of people have it done. Your surgeon has almost certainly done this hundreds or thousands of times. Focus more on preparing for your recovery: stock up on protein shakes, cans of soup, boxes of tissues, whatever you will need for a week or so of lazing around afterward.

There are many different kinds of painkillers. If you had a bad reaction to percocet just tell your doctor so, and they will give you something else. (If they offer you ketoprofen, take it - it's magic!) The general anaesthetic will be a completely different chemical anyway.
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:25 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I also had all four out under general, and it was no problem at all. I went home with painkillers, and think I maybe took one of them over the weekend. The terror beforehand was definitely the worst part of it; the procedure itself turned out to be no big deal.
posted by OolooKitty at 3:44 PM on February 9, 2009

I was the one guy in a million who got the dry socket! It was painful for a week, but just because I wasn't warned about potential problems, so I assumed it was normal. When I went in to have the pain checked out, it literally took them 30 seconds to fix it. Ta-da, all was well.

Don't worry about it, even if you get the dry socket it's no big deal.
posted by krunk at 3:44 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all 4 out at age 21 with local and very light sedation; I didn't even require narcotics afterward, just an NSAID (naproxen, I think). The key to a speedy recovery was to have it done by an oral surgeon, who is likely to have more experience in this sort of thing, and take your pain meds by the clock rather than waiting until you start hurting, at least for the first couple of days. If you need something stronger, there are a lot of alternatives to percocet.

As for anesthesia, there is a lot of information in this thread that should be taken with a grain of salt. You may well be given a general anesthetic and in many instances it is a more appropriate choice than sedation. If you are being given a general you will almost certainly be given a chance to talk to the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist before the procedure (if not, insist on it). They will know your medical history and can give you answers to your questions that apply to your specific situation. In terms of safety, an otherwise healthy patient is more likely to be in a car crash on the way to the hospital than to have a life-threatening anesthetic complication. As for awareness during anesthesia, it is very rare and there are certain situations that increase the risk of it happening; typically dental procedures under general anesthesia do not have an increased risk of awareness. There is a wealth of information on this and other topics at the patient education section of the American Society of Anesthesiologists website. Don't worry about being nervous, it is very common; in my case I not only have to deal with nervous patients, but nervous parents. Most of the time they would rather be going under themselves. If you have any questions feel free to contact me via email or mefimail; I won't make fun of you or compromise your identity.
posted by TedW at 3:45 PM on February 9, 2009

I was eating sandwiches and playing basketball within 24 hours.
posted by callmejay at 3:46 PM on February 9, 2009

My mom had all four of her wisdom teeth out under GA thirty-odd years ago. She's fine, and dental science has improved since then, so I'm sure you will be too. :)
posted by Xany at 3:49 PM on February 9, 2009

A couple of years ago, I had to get a wisdom tooth removed. Not all four, but the thought of even more than zero teeth being removed was terrifying to me. I had a huge fear of the dentist, which stemmed from the fact that as a kid in the early 80s I had had some very, very bad dentist experiences. I had looked after my teeth relatively well from then on, so as to ensure that I never had to go back there again, but when a wisdom tooth started to poke out from my gums, there was no choice but to go there and get it done.

Worse still, because I was skint at the time, I had little choice but to get it done at a student dentist school. This only added to my fears.

So I went along and sat in the chair. I told the dentist that I was freaking out. He told me that he'd put a lot of anisthetic into me, and that if it hurt to slap my hand on the chair to let him know. And so the procedure began.

I felt the needle go in. It felt like a small pinch... a bit uncomfortable but not painful. A few minutes later I heard a strange sound inside my head and then suddenly my wisdom tooth was staring me in the face in those plier-type thingies dentists use.

It didn't hurt a bit. Not one little bit.

Afterwards I went home and felt fine. Then later (about an hour or so) I felt a little sick and lay down on the bed where I slept for about four hours. After which I felt fine again.

The moral of the story is this; dentists today know their shit. I figure that the whole dentistry profession realised about a decade or two ago that the stuff they do to people really hurts people so they've moulded their surgical practices around pain minimisation. So while the dentists I visited in the early 1980s were butchers, in the intervening 20 odd years they found ways to get in there, do what needs to be done with a minimum-to-zero amount of pain.

In short; you'll be fine. Fear is natural (no need to be ashamed) but when it's over there's every chance that you'll probably wonder what you were ever worried about.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:00 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't know whether this is actually a good idea, but this is how I dealt-

Well, first of all I had much irrational fear of the anesthesia wearing off and me waking up in the middle of the procedure. Not that this would happen, but you know, irrational fear. And I was afraid to go to bed the night before because I knew I'd just be up all night in sheer terror.

So what I did was made my appt as early as possible, like 730 or 8 am. Then I stayed up all night the night before it. I spent the entire night surfing the internet, posting on message boards (ha) etc. You could do the same or some variation- reading, video games, whatever. The purpose of this was twofold- 1) it distracted me from getting all freaked out about the procedure like I'd be doing if I had tried to fall asleep, and 2) it made it so that I was so exhausted by the time I actually went in that I think it dulled my anxiety a bit and helped me go right to sleep on the anesthesia. Well, I was still a little panicky but I managed not to have a full-blown panic attack like I did one other time at a hospital when they tried to give me an IV. I don't like IVs at all. Oh and also I asked for the IV in my arm instead of my hand. I don't know if its like this for everyone but I always feel that the needle in the hand is scarier and more painful. now IANAP and i dont know whether it is inadvisable to get no sleep before anesthesia but . . . it worked well for me.

Also, I had my mom take me there and back home. Home, as in, to my parent's house for a week. Yes, I am a baby but . . . nothing is more comforting than Mom when you're totally freaking out. (well, i dont know how old you are but I was in college when this happened.) :-) good luck.
posted by lblair at 4:21 PM on February 9, 2009

Well I'm sure this will be a repeat but get a happy pill from your dentist to take before you go in & then enjoy the happy gas. have someone take you home & put you to bed. You'll be OK.
posted by patnok at 4:29 PM on February 9, 2009

Oh man, it's awesome. Three wisdom teeth, two boney impactions. Anesthesia. Quite literally, I was talking to the anesthetist, heard a click, asked if it was I woke up on my couch.

Literally, just like that. Mid-sentence, my memory goes blank, and I awake on my couch.

Three hours after that, I was eating reasonably normally. Didn't need the percocet, either. You'll be fine!
posted by SemiSophos at 4:33 PM on February 9, 2009

I had my two bottom wisdom teeth (both impacted) removed at once, and about five years later, I had the two top ones (also impacted) removed. Both times, I was under the "twilight anesthesia" that a few other people have referred to. I can honestly say that I was not nervous before either procedure, and both times the doctor explained to me that I would not be the whole way asleep and that I may hear talking, etc., which was totally normal.

This did not stop me from freaking out during the surgeries. During the first one, I started to hear the nurse talking and became convinced that I was "waking up." I started to yell, and when no one responded, I started to wave my arms around. They tied me down and presumably gave me more drugs, as that is all I remember. During the second surgery, I cried the entire time. Both times, I woke up bawling.

I am not telling you this to freak you out. I am telling you this because despite having the weirdest reaction to anesthesia out of anyone I know and so far out of probably all the stories people have posted here, I was and am totally fine. I did not feel any pain at all during either surgery, and I don't consider myself to be scarred in any way from the surgeries. In fact, they are now stories that I tell other people and laugh about. My mouth healed just fine both times. When it comes down to it, it's a really routine procedure that your oral surgeon has probably done a million times. Try to picture yourself as being a totally normal case (what is most likely to happen), rather than an extreme outlier.
posted by rebel_rebel at 4:37 PM on February 9, 2009

One more story of someone who had all four wisdom teeth out under general and had no problems. I've been under general for other outpatient procedures and I came out fine from that, too.

While I don't have a history of bad reactions to percocet, I do have a phobia of needles. I don't mean I don't like them; I mean now that I've been treated (as a condition of hospital admission) I can take shots and have blood drawn without having a panic attack and hitting the nurses.

If I'm going to have general through an IV (or ideally, anything through an IV), I get a happy pill from my doctor or laughing gas or something. I'm always ashamed to tell the nurses that I might faint or have a bad panic reaction and every time, they tell me they'd rather know and reassure me by telling me stories far worse than mine. Just tell your dentist that you're having anxiety and need something to deal with that. Trust me, they've heard worse and they won't think worse of you for it.
posted by immlass at 5:12 PM on February 9, 2009

If you're going to have your wisdom teeth out, the only way you want to do it is under anesthesia in some form or fashion.

It's safer to do twilight/conscious sedation, and most dentists or oral surgeons will do work this way. You don't actually get the paralytic part of the anesthesia you get when you are totally under in conscious sedation. You are just very very verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry relaxed. And painless. It's really incredible. I highly recommend it.

I have had several operations and procedures and never had a problem with anesthesia not working. I do not know anyone who has ever had a problem with it not working. You will be fine!
posted by FergieBelle at 5:15 PM on February 9, 2009

I had mine out when I was 13, and it was exactly what people are describing: IV in the hand, count back from ten, oh hey nurse's face! My mouth is full of gauze! The only thing with me was that coming up from the anesthetic made me start crying for no reason. I was sobbing and still out of it and had no idea why. My older brother had his out the same day, and he was giddy and high afterward- so my mom got to escort us both out to the car, me in a wheelchair crying, my brother having a reeally good time, if you know what I mean. Apparently the nurses had to go to lunch so they hustled us out of there. I ended up throwing up (crying meant I swallowed some blood, plus I guess the anesthetic made me nauseous) in the car ride back. Honestly it wasn't a big deal- I watched some movies high on painkillers, ate some soup, looked chipmunkesque.

An even better outcome: my dad had his out one day when he went to the dentist and they mentioned he should have his out sometime. And so he had it done right then. He had walked to the dentist, so he walked back after and completely flabbergasted my mom.
posted by MadamM at 5:19 PM on February 9, 2009

According to the friend who drove me to and back from the oral surgeon's office, I got a lot of wisdom inserted and was very happy to discuss it as I recovered from the anesthesia. Notably, that carrot ice cream was a good idea. Like carrot cake, only ice cream. (Even now, I kind of think this might be wisdom.)

A more dire warning is that, when it's over and your face swells, people might call you "sweet cheeks".
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:27 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all four removed in my early 20s with what they called 'IV sedation'. This sounds like the same thing as the twilight anesthesia that someone mentioned. I think that one or two of the four were impacted.

The day of the procedure, I sat one of those reclining dentists' chairs and had a brief chat with the nurse anesthetist -- you will want to remind this person of any drug allergies or sensitivities, since s/he will be the one watching your status and choosing meds. It is probably also worth expressing your preference for being less aware of things. The last thing I remember before the procedure was sticking my arm out for the needle and looking in the opposite direction (I'm a fainter).

After the procedure, the first thing I remember was waking up on a padded bench in a recovery room with a mouth full of gauze, a saline drip in my arm, and a full bladder. I managed to communicate to the nurse who'd had her eye on me that I needed to use the bathroom; she followed me and stood outside the door after I insisted that I didn't need help. (That experience was similar to a bathroom visit while drunk enough that stairs were a problem.) Then I went back to the recovery room and promptly fell asleep again.

Now, apparently there were four bathroom trips rather than the one I remember, and I stayed in the recovery room more than an hour longer than usual. At some point I stayed awake long enough for them to get me into the car, which I remember. Also remember getting into bed and instantly falling asleep; they had told me that the gauze could be removed, but I didn't care. I slept deeply for a few more hours, and the first time I got out of bed, I fainted (briefly) after a few steps.

So, either I was extra-sensitive to the IV sedation, or the dosage charts are calibrated based on women lying about their weight (the anesthetist had trouble believing the accurate number I gave her). The good news is that I pretty much felt fine -- the sleep was heavy and irresistable, but it felt like it was good for me and I recovered pretty quickly.

Miscellaneous advice: The pain meds (something non-narcotic) made me vomit, which was REALLY painful given the holes in my mouth, so if you have a favorite OTC painkiller that doesn't mess with your stomach, might be worth clearing it with the oral surgeon. (I ended up not taking anything and it was bearable.) Exercise can make the healing sockets throb enormously. Finally, I recommend those precooked refrigerated containers of mashed potatoes that are mostly butter and salt.
posted by ecsh at 5:32 PM on February 9, 2009

If you're lucky, you'll think it's hilarious. I too had a "rage reaction" to valium, but when I had three of my wisdom teeth pulled with twilight anesthesia, I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. One was impacted: the more they cracked and prodded and pulled it, the more it seemed like some sort of Three Stooges gag. Somehow, the sheer absurdity of it all had me laughing till tears were streaming down my face, and I left the room in a great mood. That's the gas talking, I guess.

I also had general anesthesia to remove a bone spur on the top of my foot (which developed after I dropped a weight on it ten years earlier). It knocked me out, but I woke up in the middle to bright light, a vague sensation of pressure, and what sounded like a dremel. They told me I said "MORE DOPE! MORE DOPE!" Which is a pretty reasonable request, all things considered.

Just remember, they probably do this hundreds of times a year. You'll be fine!
posted by aquafortis at 5:58 PM on February 9, 2009

I would like to add my story to the chorus. Had all four out at age 17, the day before classes started for senior year of high school. Got IV drip sedation. Didn't feel a thing, it was over before I knew we had started. My face was very swollen, but I went to school anyway. Got to eat lots of ice cream. Healed without a hitch.

So please, please, don't worry, it will be all fine.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:07 PM on February 9, 2009

I had mine out on a Thursday. Played basketball with my brother for a few hours Friday. Went to the state fair on Saturday. No worries. No pain. You can do it.
posted by Silvertree at 6:10 PM on February 9, 2009

I had mine out with local anesthesia, dull aching for about 36 hrs was all I got afterwards. No dry sockets or any of the other horror stories. Eating normal food within the day.
A colleague went the full general for his 4 wisdom teeth, again no issues whatsoever.
posted by arcticseal at 6:18 PM on February 9, 2009

Nthing that you will be fine with general anesthesia. I had all four of mine out that way with no problems, with an experience pretty much like Jessamyn's. Percocet and morphine affect me rather strongly (headaches, woozy) so I just took a half dose the first day or so and then got by with ibuprofin. Just tell them about the percocet reaction in advance, as others have said, so you are prescribed a different painkiller for after the surgery. As you have seen, most people have no problems at all from the surgery. I'm one of the few people I know of who had a bit of nerve damage that made part of my tongue numb (wisdom teeth have long roots so it sometimes happens), but once I got used to it, I have had no problems adapting to that.

Finally, note that I had two surgeries (not dental related) when I was quite small, which is going on 45 years ago now. During the second, at age 6, I had anesthesia awareness. I woke up for a few seconds while they were sewing up the incision. It was just a few seconds, I felt no pain, and it makes an interesting story to tell but has otherwise had no effect on my life. When I had surgery a few years ago, I talked to the anesthesiologist about it, and he told me such incidents were rare then and are extremely rare now (and I have never met anyone else who had this happen), and are much less likely to occur now with modern anesthesia, modern techniques, and equipment. I've had 2 surgeries besides the wisdom teeth removal, and they were a piece of cake, and I did not have any other incidents of anesthesia awareness.
posted by gudrun at 6:27 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all mine out under general and was fine. The neat thing is that I had no perception of time passing-I went out and it seemed that immediately I was awake again and it was over.

You will be fine.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:01 PM on February 9, 2009

I had two taken out a couple of days ago, but using local anesthetic. It was absolutely fine, and I feel great today. I've had quite a lot of work done this last year, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that dental horror stories are always way blown out of proportion. You'll be fine.
posted by Relic at 7:25 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all four of mine out at once when I was 17, under a general, at it was less stressful than an everyday dental cleaning. The worst part was having to fight off my mad stoner roommates for a week to keep my vicodion from disappearing.

Oh, and when the surgeon insists that you do the warm salt water swishing thing for a week or so afterwards, they are seriously not fooling around. Words cannot describe the unbelievable, grotendous horror of brushing your teeth one day, 2 weeks later, and dislodging a tiny bit of vile zombie chicken. This was 13 years ago and I still almost dry-heave just thinking about it. :/
posted by elizardbits at 7:39 PM on February 9, 2009

I had four impacted wisdom teeth removed while under (nitrous?). My jaw was sore but I didn't need any of the 10 vicodin my doc prescribed.
posted by zippy at 7:49 PM on February 9, 2009

Hey, I just had my wisdom teeth out on Friday! This was my first time under general anesthesia, and it was a great as people suggest. They give you an IV, you blink, and somehow while you were blinking they've had a bit of a dig-around in your mouth.

As far as how you will respond to the anesthesia? Can't say. From what I understand, it is nothing like pain relievers like oxycodone and acetaminophen (the ingredients in a Percocet). For what it is worth, I seem to be somewhat invulnerable to the Percocet -- no side effects and little change in my pain levels -- but I was asleep within seconds of them injecting the anesthetic into my IV. I do know that the chances of weird reactions to general anesthetic are so small, you'd do better to worry about getting in a fatal car accident on the way to your oral surgeon's.

As far as pain after the procedure? It's not nearly s bad as I thought it would be, and I am a wimp. Between a 2 and a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, tops. The only problem is that the pain is constant and long-lasting, which is driving me a little crazy. I'm still hurting a bit three days later, and I certainly would not have been able to go back to work today, had that been my plan. Since you are already living with pain on a daily basis, this will probably be no big deal to you.

Also, think about food. I have really not been able to chew since the procedure, and it is really tricky to find foods that are soft/liquid, but are not sweet. My sweet tooth is just overwhelmed right now. Some suggestions - hummus, cottage cheese, creamy veggie soups and mashed potatoes.

Get it over with. Good luck!
posted by Rock Steady at 8:12 PM on February 9, 2009

I had all 4 of mine out under a general; the lowers were both severely impacted and so they had to be taken out in pieces, and the uppers came out because the dental surgeon was in there anyway. I had it done within a week of the pain starting, and it was such a relief.

The worst part was when I woke up in another room - which is disorienting, granted - and the nurse kept asking me questions to determine my alertness but didn't take the cotton packing out first. Tell you, it's just not possible to speak coming out of a general with literally no saliva in your mouth. Other than that, it was IV in, muscle relaxant (fun) then a push of pentothal and 'count back from 100 for me'; I got to 97.

Even with the extra trauma to my lower jaw, what with having the gums cut down to get the teeth out, I was eating food, not milkshakes, in 3 days. Rinse, rinse, rinse, it is your greatest friend in recovery. I took 2 percs on the first day and that was it. There was almost no swelling and the pain I had that lasted longest was actually in my jaw muscles because they had to really open my mouth up to get into the back. That was just an ache from being over-extended.

The best part of it was walking out of the building, which was on the bank of the Rideau Canal, and there was a group of 4 speed skaters in solid, bright-coloured speed suits training on the ice. That was surreal. I can still see them in my head when I think about it.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:21 PM on February 9, 2009

I also had all 4 removed under general. Mine were coming in sideways, which is really a tragedy as I don't have enough teeth and I could have used those.

Don't worry about the anesthesia. Those folks are really well trained, and they take such good care of you. You can trust those people. You're in better shape under general than you are when you get your teeth cleaned, I swear. They are so much more cautious and paying so much more attention to you.

In my experience, it went like this: mask goes on face. "This is just oxygen, taken deep breaths." I had a split-second of feeling claustrophobic, and I was about to say, "Hold on a sec," and then I was out cold. I dreamed things, but I couldn't remember exactly what when I woke up. Because my teeth were so weird, I was warned about certain risks going in (including the permanent face tingles, etc.) so as soon as I was awake I wanted to know how it went. It went perfectly, no problem.

I didn't realize that once I started moving I would feel nauseous. I've been under general twice now, and both times when I woke up I threw up. I hate throwing up, but this is different. It's like your body is waking up. It doesn't feel as violent or awful as normal throwing up. I almost forgot I'd done it moments later. Just don't be surprised, but it's really not that bad.

I had a lot of pain for about a week or two. (I'm a sensitive snowflake with no pain threshold, however.) They gave me lots of drugs and while I took them regularly I was fine. I just took it easy for a while. I think they really had to hammer on those teeth to get them out, though I didn't swell at all.

It's terrifying to give yourself over like this. But this is actually a really low-risk surgery and it's so worth it. I was in pain for some time before having my teeth out, and my life is so much more comfortable ever since.

Think of it as an excuse to be pampered. The anesthesia is totally fascinating. If I had to do it again, I'd pick general every time.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:37 PM on February 9, 2009

One more positive extraction to the pile: had all 4 out last year in a single procedure with both laughing gas and general (my first experience with either). Straightforward recovery and didn't get near to using all the codeine prescribed for the pain afterwards. I found regular teeth cleanings more painful and stressful given the zings when the dentist hits a sensitive tooth.

Going under anesthesia was really weird because I got the laughing gas first. A mask went on over the hose and I remember feeling increasingly tingly all over my body and feeling like I was getting more and more distant from my surroundings. The voices of the nurses sounded like they were slurred and I swore I saw blur trails as they moved around the room. And then I was out. The next thing I knew, I was woken up and taken to recovery.

I would say there wasn't pain so much as a lot of soreness and tenderness during recovery. I iced the bejesus out of my face during the first 24 hours (literally tied two icepacks to my cheeks with a scarf around my head, 20 mins on 20 mins off, the entire day) which completely minimized chipmunk cheeks. So for your recovery, ice as soon as you can and often, take your meds, and rinse as instructed by the oral surgeon when the clots have established hold. There's lots of great advice on AskMe about what to eat while you recover.
posted by kitkatcathy at 9:44 PM on February 9, 2009

I had four wisdom teeth removed under LOCAL anesthesia with laughing gas about 10 years ago.

Mine were pretty serious (two impacted, one required moving a chunk of jawbone to get it out) and it took about 6 hours, which thanks to the gas felt like about 3 hours. It was still bloody unpleasant.

Considering the terrible experience I had the one time I've been under general anesthesia, this was much, much better. But the general was for leg surgery which, for all I know, might use much stronger drugs.

I'm sure this is an option for you, so if general anesthesia is such a worry, why bother?
posted by mmoncur at 3:36 AM on February 10, 2009

I didn't even need to take the pain medication, it went so well. And I put it off for years too. The worst part for me was what Rock Steady pointed out in that I was massively sick of sweet crap after 24 hours.

Really, we can't guarantee you won't have an awful experience, but it's not guaranteed that you will either.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:46 AM on February 10, 2009

Yet another anecdote for ya: I had all 4 removed when I was 17. I remember the shot in the IV to knock me out was cold. Sent chills up my arm. Started counting down from 100, got to 98, came to in a wheelchair with my mouth full of gauze. Worst part for me was my mom and the nurse believed me when I said I didn't need help getting in the car. I stood up, got woozy and hit my forehead on the edge of the car. The car was a VW bug which has a nice rolled metal lip all around the edge of the roof. I had a bruise and a big ass red line running across my forehead. That was the worst of the pain for me; my damn forehead, not my mouth or jaw. I even went out that night.

I am allergic to codeine. I just told my surgeon and he gave me darvocet instead. I did not need them. Ibuprofen worked just fine.
posted by shmurley at 11:06 AM on February 10, 2009

I had six wisdom teeth (!), five of which were removed under general anaesthesia. You can read my amusing story in this thread. It was a no-drama affair, except when they were pumping the antibiotic in me via an IV in my hand, which burned a little bit.
posted by not_on_display at 12:30 PM on February 10, 2009

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