Wisdom teeth extraction: local or general anesthesia?
April 25, 2007 3:56 PM   Subscribe

My wisdom teeth need to come out and my dentist referred me to an oral surgeon that only uses local anesthetic--no gas. Should I ask for another surgeon?

No wisdom teeth are impacted and I'm not THAT squeamish... But has anybody had any terrible experiences with just novacaine & no gas?
posted by awesomedude to Health & Fitness (59 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I had mine out with just novacaine, and it was fine. It did ick me out a little when one broke, but the pain management was plenty adequate.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:59 PM on April 25, 2007

I, too, had mine out with novacaine and was fine, and one of mine was impacted. (It wasn't impacted very seriously, though.)
posted by craichead at 4:02 PM on April 25, 2007

I had this exact procedure done. I had to drive myself home after, so I couldn't really have the gas. As for pain there is none after the Novocaine properly sets in. The only strange part of the procedure is feeling them doing something in your mouth and occasionally hearing a loud craaacckk as they smash your molars apart. You have to space out for a while and let them do their work. It's not bad.

The horrible part, though, comes later during recovery when you wake up in the morning and your pillow is covered in blood and the throbbing that goes along with the healing. However, this is the same whether you get the gas or not. And it's why codeine was invented. Take a day or two off from school/work, you'll be in no position to do any work. You won't be fully recovered by day 3, but at least you'll be on the road to recovery and you won't look like a chipmunk anymore.
posted by jourman2 at 4:03 PM on April 25, 2007

i had gas and woke up mid-procedure. i remember that it hurt, but i don't actually recall the pain. so, there you go.

if you're really nervous, ask your dentist to refer you to someone who will sedate you.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:04 PM on April 25, 2007

also see here for recovery tips. Some good info
posted by jourman2 at 4:05 PM on April 25, 2007

Same here, just local. The only creepy part was the crunchy sound of my tooth breaking and seeing the instruments twist around and around and knowing my tooth was on the end of that thing.
posted by ao4047 at 4:07 PM on April 25, 2007

I had two of my wisdom teeth taken out by my regular dentist with just local anaesthetic. There was no pain at all, only pressure. The amount of force used to push out the teeth was a bit disturbing though.
posted by cardboard at 4:08 PM on April 25, 2007

I had mine out with just local and they were impacted, and it was just disconcerting, in that my jaws felt tired holding them open so long (the waiting room was full when I came out - my appointment ran over three others). But no biggie, the codeine handled any post pain real well.
posted by b33j at 4:09 PM on April 25, 2007

I had all four out with just local, in fact that's how i've had all my dental work done. It was fine. My partner got the gas and I think their recovery was actually a bit slower.
posted by French Fry at 4:10 PM on April 25, 2007

here in the UK gas is banned.. all dental anaesthetic is done by a local.
posted by complience at 4:10 PM on April 25, 2007

Mine were done just with novacaine and it was so laughably easy I was filled with rage at all the people who terrified me beforehand with their horror stories. All of my teeth were fully impacted at grotesque angles too. I have honestly had stubbed toes that bothered me more than the wisdom teeth removal. The whole procedure took less than an hour and it was all very straightforward. In my craptastic unofficial survey it seemed that the people who went to surgeons who used gas had worse experiences overall than people who went to surgeons who didn't need use it and god help you if you went to a surgeon who always used gas and you opted not to. I would feel more confident with your oral surgeon because he didn't use gas.
posted by hindmost at 4:11 PM on April 25, 2007 [3 favorites]

I had several teeth taken out due to overcrowding with local anaesthetic. I would be far more worried about being put to sleep with the gas TBH.
posted by fire&wings at 4:12 PM on April 25, 2007

Local anesthetic here too with no problems. My teeth didn't crack, but there was lots of pressure on my jaw/mouth to get them out. I highly recommend listening to music via earphones during the procedure -- makes it easier to take your mind off things, and not listen to the strange noises!
posted by evening at 4:14 PM on April 25, 2007

Mine were pretty impacted, and my surgeon was pretty shocked when I actually requested that he do the surgery with Novocaine only (I hate the long recovery time from general anasthesa), but it ended up being pretty easy. The one thing to watch out for is that my oral surgeon wasn't used to operating on people who were awake, so he wasn't as cautious as he probably should have been around my "gag reflex" and I ended up barfing blood on him, which was a joy for all involved.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:14 PM on April 25, 2007

I had local, but it was accompanied with a twilight drug known as Versed.

I don't even remember going to the dentist.
posted by kaseijin at 4:15 PM on April 25, 2007

i had local, and i loved it! my husband had local, too, and he came out singing songs and hitting on the nurses....
posted by lil' ears at 4:25 PM on April 25, 2007

Just to chime in with the alternate experience... I had my wisdom teeth removed under general anesthesia. It wasn't gas-- it was some kind of IV drug. I remember the IV going in, the doctor saying a few words, and then... just waking up. Having never had the novocaine experience, I can't comment on that, but I think it was nice having absolutely no memory of any part of the actual surgery.
posted by christie at 4:30 PM on April 25, 2007

My wisdom teeth removal story:

I had heard, from people who had their wisdom teeth removed under gas, that you are awake but do not remember the removal, and barely will remember the ride home from the dentist's office. That seemed paradoxical to me, to be "awake" and not remember anything.

So it came time to have my wisdom teeth removed. I put a notebook in my pocket and planned to write down my first impressions upon "coming to." The dentist used gas on me. They put the gas mask on me, gave me some kind of shot, and next thing I knew I was being told, "Okay, it's over." It felt like no time had passed. After we got to the car, my mother told me she had stolen a magazine from the dentist's waiting room, so the first decipherable scribble in my notebook is "mama stole a magazine."

I was pleased with the gas.
posted by jayder at 4:35 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had my first wisdom tooth removed under a local. Turned out the terminal end of the root was wrapped around a nerve, so I spent part of my surgery with the nurse up on the chair on her knees, holding my head down, while the dentist dug and pulled and pulled and tugged for what seemed like sixty thousand hours of hell.

It didn't *hurt*, but it was horrible hearing the crunching sounds, and being restrained. Then, because he couldn't cut out part of the bone to make it easier, I ended up with root chips slowly working their way out of my gums for the next several months, and that DID hurt.

Consequently, my last three wisdom teeth were removed under general anesthetic. Much. Much. Better.
posted by headspace at 4:39 PM on April 25, 2007

The issue probably isn't really the pain, that can be managed. The issue is if having the procedure done while you are awake and alert will cause you to shun dental work from that point on,

I had about 7 hours of work done on my mouth last year, after being phobic about it for years.

I don't remember a thing and will go make in a heartbeat when necessary.

So... if it's just the pain that bothers you, you don't need anything other than a local.. if you're like me, go for all of it!
posted by HuronBob at 4:42 PM on April 25, 2007

I've gotta go away from the crowd and say that I had Novocaine only (bottom two wisdoms), and had a TERRIBLE experience. I have since learned that one of the side effects of Novocaine is nervousness, which I didn't know at the time. I started to freak out in the middle of the procedure (the doctor was speaking harshly to the nurse and I got it in my head that I was in the middle of a doctor-nurse soap opera love triangle and they were not concentrating on my procedure), and, since they have your jaw wired open, I couldn't tell the doctor that I was feeling panicky, which, of course made it worse.

I started bawling (I was 18 at the time, and a sensitive and imaginative soul) and of course, they didn't know why I was crying. The doctor got in my face shouting, "Why are you cring, why are you crying?" He was trying to figure out if I was in pain, or what, but of course, that just made me cry harder. I couldn't stop, and they had to bring my mom in from the waiting room and hold my hand for the rest of the procedure. Obviously it was pretty traumatic.

I went under general anesthesia when I had to have the top two out, and it was a piece of cake.

Now that I know that Novocaine gives me a bad reaction, I can calm myself down if I have to have it for a cavity or something, but I would not recommend novocaine only if you have had a bad reaction to it in the past, or if you are a nervous person in general. Life is too short. Go with the gas.
posted by paddingtonb at 4:44 PM on April 25, 2007

My cousin had her wisdoms tooth pulled while under gas, unfortunately thiere was a problem and she never regained consciousness, all procedures carry risks, weigh the risk of slight discomfort vs. death or brain damage.

didn't mean to be a downer
posted by kanemano at 4:44 PM on April 25, 2007

I'm a big sissy when it comes to dentistry and was scared to death re the entire procedure. My dentist prescribed 2 Valiums for me (1 for the night before and the other for 1 hour before my appt). Between the local and the Valium, it was an easy procedure with no gas needed.
posted by buggzzee23 at 4:45 PM on April 25, 2007

The nitrous didn't have any effect on me, so I had to go with local-only. If you're like me, local anesthetic wears off quickly, so you might want to come up with a signal to let them know that's happening while they're concentrating on your mouth. The worst part of the whole thing for me was the taste of my blood, which was effectively being cooked by the friction from the drill. Foul.
posted by kimota at 5:00 PM on April 25, 2007

I was put under when I had my (very impacted) wisdom teeth out. The drug-controlled unconsciousness/lack of memory seriously wigged me out, which I didn't expect.

If I had it to do again, I'd look into local only.
posted by desuetude at 5:14 PM on April 25, 2007

My dentist is a old war dentist. Very old school, but very good.
I owed him some money, and I also needed a wisdom tooth out ASAP.
He "offered" to do it with just novocaine and save me the cost of a oral surgeon. He also had me hold my lower jaw while he snapped my tooth out.
The pain wasn't bad. More the whole having to hold my jaw while he pried back and forth on my tooth. The cracking and popping is to be enjoyed too.
Afterward though, I felt like I had been mouth raped by a elephant. That feeling lasted a few days.
posted by JonnyRotten at 5:19 PM on April 25, 2007

If you want gas, find someone who offers it. I did and it made the procedure much better.

They're your wisdom teeth, take them out how you'd like.
posted by unixrat at 5:27 PM on April 25, 2007

I had all of mine out when a late teen--my mother had asked the surgeon for gas, and he immediately left the room without speaking to her. Turns out, he had a young man die under the anesthesia a short time before (and naturally, he was a star basketball player, etc.) So, no gas for me. I had the pre-surgery valium and then IV, and I only remember coming too on my bottom right tooth and saying "auoow!" The I was out again. That one had a wierd sort of root on it and was the one I kept; the rest I gave as Christmas presents. (I was an odd teen.) My mother says the whole way home I repeatedly opened the box with the teeth in it and laughed maniacally. This I don't remember.

I am terribly afraid of needles, and I strongly recommend the valium beforehand. I think the IV may be a good middle ground between gas and only a local.
posted by thebrokedown at 5:28 PM on April 25, 2007

I've still got my wisdom teeth, but I've had ten other teeth removed in my life, all with local only. You never forget the crunching noise. If I get my wisdom teeth out I definitely will ask for gas.

Also, if you're really nervous and want to get it over with - I once went into the dentist to get four teeth out and novacaine just didn't work for me that day. I sat in the chair for over an hour waiting for it to take and they shot it into me at least twice before telling me to go home and come back next week. That was time I could afford in junior high but I'd be beyond peeved if I left work early or something to get my wisdom teeth removed only to still have my freaking wisdom teeth the next day.
posted by crinklebat at 5:40 PM on April 25, 2007

Between my wisdom teeth and various braces-related pullings of adult and baby teeth, I've had 12 pulled. I had nitrous and local the first two times and was given general anesthesia for my impacted wisdom teeth.

I'm pretty novacaine resistant, so just the act of getting the 15 or 20 shots I require to be really numb is pretty traumatic without something else to relax me. I found the cracking noises and blood very upsetting even with the gas (they had to pry my mouth open), so I can't imagine laying there and being stoic without it.

My wisdom teeth were a breeze. He even gave me a Valium to take in the morning and gas for when he put in the IV. I had no pain (other than a very full bladder when I woke up) and no stress. Don't remember a thing. I slept most of the subsequent 24 hours which gave my mouth a chance to heal, was up and around the next day and eating normally the day after that. It was by far the easiest teeth removal I'd ever had, even though the procedure was more complicated.

My point? I'm a huge wuss. I just don't see the point in making stuff like this any harder than it has to be. If you don't want gas, I'd at least see if you can get some Valium. But I, for one, wouldn't let anybody dig around in my jaw without maximum chemical assistance. Your pain wuss mileage may vary.
posted by mostlymartha at 5:42 PM on April 25, 2007

Complience: "here in the UK gas is banned.. all dental anaesthetic is done by a local."

And yet I had all of them done in London only two years ago (after the "ban") while knocked out with an injection of sedative.

The patient remembers exactly as much nothing with that as if under general anaesthetic.

Me, I grew up in a place where they didn't give even a local before drilling. After having teeth drilled with no pain relief at all aged 5, 6 and 7, I'm not going anywhere near a dental procedure while awake for as long as I live.

However, you might not be asking the right question. It's not just a matter of "local or gas". If this dentist will sedate you properly, that's as good as gas (honest).


If you really are asking the right question, I think you'd be nuts to go with this dentist. Not just based on my own childhood horror stories' aftermath but because you need the procedure, and any obstacle like this just encourages you to defer it. That's not good for you (and trust me - you *really* don't want to put this off).

[And, even acknowledging my own prejudices, if a dentist doesn't do any "serious" sedation/general at all for major procedures... shouldn't that ring a couple of alarm bells about whether they're not just a little bit too cheap to entrust this work to? I'd be wondering what other corners they're cutting.]
posted by genghis at 5:53 PM on April 25, 2007

I had mine done with me under. Not general, not gas (except for a minute when they put the IV in), just an IV of liquid valium and assorted other depressants. It was glorious.

I've been told that one reason you want to be out is so that the oral surgeon can shove you around in ways that an awake-ish person might object to. Dunno whether that's true or not. What I do know is that my recovery experience, even with two impacted teeth, was radically unlike the local-only experiences described above. I never had any noticeable swelling. I never had any pain, and took one dose of the tylenol-3 prophylactically and didn't bother after that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:54 PM on April 25, 2007

I had the twilight sleep... it's not total general anaesthesia, but my memory of the surgery is almost nonexistent. I don't remember hearing any crunch or crack... just a few fragmentary impressions of the oral surgeon's gloved hands in my mouth, the noise of the suction device, and some voices.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 5:55 PM on April 25, 2007

i did mine with just novacaine the first time. the second time i had one out, i also asked for gas.

if you do the gas, just keep asking for more. its much more fun that way. the doctor was like 'are you feeling drunk or dizzy yet?' and i just kept saying no, until he finally said 'well, i'll have to give you the maximum allowed by law' suddenly i was overcome with euphoria.

unfortunately the high wasnt cheap. shit cost me 80 bucks.
posted by kneelconqueso at 6:02 PM on April 25, 2007

I had a tooth removed from my gum, and the oral surgeon only used novocaine. First of all, I assumed he'd be using laughing gas (even my regular dentist did), so I was already nervous. Then the tooth broke in my gum, so they pulled it out piece by bloody piece, right in front of my eyes. I passed out. They had to stop the procedure and give me oxygen. Worst of all, the oral surgeon kind of made fun of me for being such a wuss.
posted by Evangeline at 6:29 PM on April 25, 2007

I was knocked out totally when I had mine out and it was fine. One minute I'm listening to my heartbeat from the monitor while they stick the needle in, next thing I wake up with my mouth full of gauze. It was fine (especially the painkillers after) but I had this weird coming to reaction- I basically started crying hysterically, more from the disorientation than from any actual discomfort. The descriptions from this thread make me really really glad I was unconscious, btw. I doubt I would have been able to stand hearing my own teeth crumble. Ick.
posted by MadamM at 6:41 PM on April 25, 2007

Nthing the valium or other twilight drugs. I am a serious dental-phobic, but also scared of general anesthesia. I had the local anesthetic, plus some Valium beforehand, and Halcyon to make me forget. I remember getting into the dental chair, and I remember waking up at home 10 hours later (I had a lot of work done that day), but nothing in between! I am not terribly freaked out by the memory loss, I figure its something I'd rather not know about, so its all good. If you're not as dentist-neurotic as me, then I suggest going with the surgeon your dentist recommended, with local and some Valium. The Valium will make you not care about the noises and sensations, but you won't have a memory gap like me.
posted by Joh at 6:47 PM on April 25, 2007

I just had a wisdom tooth out unnder local anaesthetic. The tooth was broken off at the root, and growing on its side reasonably near a nerve, but far enough away to be "reasonably safe" to get a normal dentist to do it. Aside from being a very anxiety provoking situation, and recovery time (jaw pain receeding) was quite long, it was fine. I ended up lying there and concentrating on the anxiety sensations in my body supposedly to "practice" being able to cope in extreme situations. Bit of valium might help if you don't want to go that way, but you'll be fine in all likelihood. I suspect that complications are more likely to arise with a general than a local.
posted by singingfish at 6:51 PM on April 25, 2007

Much as I enjoyed numerous "trips into space" on N2O as a youth, I would totally recommend oral and/or IV sedatives instead, since during at least two of the aforementioned trips I for whatever reason breathed through my mouth enough to come rapidly back to earth with extremely unpleasant results.
posted by oats at 7:06 PM on April 25, 2007

Go the gas! It's fun - not what you'd expect from getting teeth removed :)

I assume it's the same as that which was used on me: 'more than local, less than general'. Don't go full general anesthesia, because some dentists are less careful if they know there's no way you can sense/feel how rough they're being.

Also, you wake up with a really great high. Did I mention it was fun?
posted by Lucie at 7:17 PM on April 25, 2007

I had mine out with local. I was also given a mild oral sedative beforehand to calm the nerves (it didn't put me to sleep). It was fine.
posted by randomstriker at 7:28 PM on April 25, 2007

Nitrous is not used in dental procedures in the UK? Man, that is the only way I survive. I feel for you folks.

For what it's worth, I did NOT wake up with a bloody pillow after having all four of mine out, but I am thankful I was asleep for it. My mom was there to drive me home and said I woke up crying and I cannot remember crying at all.
posted by GaelFC at 7:33 PM on April 25, 2007

I had it done with IV sedatives. Wouldn't do it any other way. I don't think a true general anesthesia is necessary, but I'd move along to someone else if they're not even going to use sedatives.

You don't get many opportunities (assuming you're a normal, healthy person) to get high on really, really powerful drugs, legally, and get your insurance company to pay for most/all of it ... why the heck would you pass that up?

I got a lot of percocet out of it, too. Didn't really need it for the pain, but no sense in letting good drugs go to waste!
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:34 PM on April 25, 2007

I had mine done with a short-acting IV general, as did my sister, and both of us have the least-horrible wisdom teeth stories of anyone we know. According to my dentist (who was not the one who did the wisdom tooth removal, has no reason to state otherwise and who I trust completely anyway), it's much easier on all concerned to have a general, and in my experience, that's definitely true. I had a badly impacted tooth which required some bone removal, and aside from that area being sore for a few days (controlled with meds), I was completely fine almost right away, no bleeding, almost no swelling (aside from a small amount in the area of the bone removal) and very minimal discomfort. I say find a doc who'll give you more than a local.
posted by biscotti at 7:55 PM on April 25, 2007

I had an IV of sodium pentathol (a.k.a "truth serum") and would definitely recommend it to others. It's painless, though it does make you feel a little weird later (as MadamM pointed out). No real pain, though, especially when you add in some good painkillers.

One caveat: During my follow-up visit, the oral surgeon told me I was blabbing throughout much of the procedure, which made me a little embarrassed. I don't even want to think about what I might have told him while I was "under."

A year later, the doctor was busted by police with his 18-year-old daughter for marijuana cultivation. Good times.
posted by dhammond at 8:24 PM on April 25, 2007

Just had a pretty badly impacted wisdom tooth (I'm 34) taken out a couple of months ago, and it went fine with sedation. Not gas, but an IV drip, probably the same as several people have described above.

I have no recollection whatsoever of the procedure, and was woozy afterwards but coherent. There was no "high," just unconsciousness followed by dazed sleepiness for the rest of the afternoon/evening.

Which brings me to my next AskMe question: where can I sell some Vicodin?
posted by staggernation at 9:53 PM on April 25, 2007

I had three teeth out (one at a time) with local and two (at the same time) with the IV.

The local was fine, didn't hurt too much until afterwards, although the pressure they use to pull out your tooth is ridiculous, and on one of them they had to cut the tooth into pieces to get it out, while I was awake. Aside from the usual *caine anxiety, it wasn't a big deal, but it hurt some in the days afterwards.

The IV was awesome just for being an experience I'd never had before, although puking on the way home wasn't much fun. I was trying with all my willpower to stay awake as long as possible, but after a few minutes, it couldn't be done. By the next day I was up and around and out with my g/f shopping. (Percocet puts me in a good mood ;)) After two days, I only needed ibuprofen to stay out of pain.

I slept for somewhere around 12 hours after the procedure once I got home.

My girlfriend had all four of her wisdom teeth out at that same oral surgeon and was in severe pain for the better part of a week. As it turns out, opiates do almost nothing for her. She ended up having to take two percocet and 3 advil every few hours to even be able to sleep. Of course, since she has a sensitive stomach, we also had to get some anti-nausea medication so she could keep the drugs down.

Usually an oral surgeon will not use IV anasthesia because your insurance won't pay for it unless the teeth are ridiculously impacted. Me, I just paid the extra $100 and got on with my life. I was actually sort of scared, to be honest, as I'd never been rendered unconscious by drugs before, but it was sort of fun, as I mentioned before. Afterwards actually felt much like my friend said recovery from surgery is (he had a recurring pneumothorax that had to be operated on). You feel really good for a while afterwards, until the drugs wear off and it hurts like hell, only I got to miss out on the last part. ;)

BTW, the gas they started me off on didn't do a damn thing, but boy did that IV work, and work well. ;)

Basically, if you don't mind going to the dentist, you won't mind the extraction too much while you're awake, other than the (painless) feeling that your jaw is being ripped from your face as they extract the tooth. If you've ever had a root canal, you'll be happy to know that it's more pleasant than that, although mine only resulted in relatively little stabbing pains as they drill out the roots. ;)
posted by wierdo at 10:44 PM on April 25, 2007

Get sedated. I wouldn't have wanted to be awake for my non-impacted wisdom teeth removal. My insurance plan paid for the sedation since I was getting all 4 removed. But I would have paid for it anyway.
posted by FergieBelle at 10:50 PM on April 25, 2007

When I had all four out, I was given what I seem to recall was a shot of Demerol in the big vein on the back of my right hand, and possibly (although it's hazy), local as well.

I giggled while he chiselled. I heartily recommend that combination.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:09 PM on April 25, 2007

I've recently had a lot of dental/periodontal work done for which I (being a wimp) insisted on having a local. The worst part is the scraping sound, so I made sure I had music + earphones to drown out the sound. That made a huge difference to my stress levels.

Also, for some of the work, the local just wouldn't take. I was given the maximum dosage they were allowed to give me, and part of my mouth still wouldn't numb up. The dentist said that this happens sometimes.
posted by essexjan at 12:21 AM on April 26, 2007

My wisdom teeth were partially exposed when they were removed (not impacted). I had local and I was done within 15 minutes, no exaggeration. It took longer for the novacaine to kick in than for them to pull out the tooth and the shot hurt more too (just a pinch).
posted by like_neon at 1:55 AM on April 26, 2007

I'm in the UK, and have been under so called "sedation". The first time, I wasn't too bad. The second time, I got violent, and apparently hit the dentist (which he had coming). This was after they had given me a second dose of the stuff.

My personal recommendation is to find a dentist who is calm and sympathetic, and have the gas.
posted by Solomon at 2:10 AM on April 26, 2007

General anaethesia is dangerous business. That's why highly trained doctors make big bucks for overseeing just that one thing, while other doctors do their work. Last time I had a general, it was recovery that was difficult. My blood pressure shot up, and when I came to, all I felt was horrible tension, and I screamed at them to make it stop. Maybe that input from me helped? I don't know!

Teeth: Whatever gets you through it without horrible memories is worth it. One brutal encounter with a dentist can ruin your mouth for life. The local works poorly for me, or, I've had incompetant dentists with that needle. I've only done the gas for recreation, it's nice. I'd love to experience dentistry with that. For recovery, I suggest codeine, herbs, and sleep. For me, it's the best way.
posted by Goofyy at 2:17 AM on April 26, 2007

Another vote for just local anaesthetic being fine. I had both wisdom teeth out on one side, both non-impacted, one at a funny angle digging into my cheek, the other only partially erupted (which meant it kept getting infected, which was AGONY). A few more injections than you would for a simple filling, and they make you wait a loooong time after the injections before they start doing anything so they're sure everything's numb. It was little bit scary as it's slightly more full-on than a usual dentist visit - face masks, big pointy tools, but it was over very quickly, about twenty minutes in all. A lot of pulling and a slightly worrying creaking noise as the teeth came out, but that was pretty much the worst of it.

I took some co-codamol once I got home, but I barely needed it. The worst thing was not being able to brush my teeth properly for a few days in case I dislodged the clot, to be honest.

I've had a root canal and that wasn't horrible, but it was worse than the wisdom tooth extractions. I'm not sure what I'd do if I had the option (I'm in the UK and it was a simple extraction on the NHS, so it was local anaesthetic or nothing) - probably go for the gas and the opiate painkillers, just for a laugh if nothing else if it was the same price - but as it was, it wasn't horrible or anything. At least you can take yourself home straight afterwards rather than getting a cab because you're too high to drive.
posted by terrynutkins at 3:18 AM on April 26, 2007

I had only local as well and it was peachy. I've heard that being "out" for wisdom teeth surgery isn't a good idea.
posted by sneakin at 4:05 AM on April 26, 2007

I sort of wish a doctor would chime in here; my impression is that an IV sedative is pretty different from an inhaled general anesthetic ("gas"), and doesn't carry the same level of risk. So we may actually be talking about two different things. But I may also be talking out of my IANAD ass.
posted by staggernation at 7:04 AM on April 26, 2007

Usually an oral surgeon will not use IV anasthesia because your insurance won't pay for it unless the teeth are ridiculously impacted.

A lot of oral surgeons don't take insurance in the first place--you have to pay up front and then try to get reimbursed by your insurer.

Also, here's a tip: if you have local anesthetic in your mouth, don't eat anything, even semi-solid, until it's worn off. My self-inflicted wound from biting the hell out of my numb cheek actually hurt more the next couple of days than the healing wisdom tooth incision itself.
posted by staggernation at 7:10 AM on April 26, 2007

The only thing I recall from my oral surgery (gas etc) was looking into the (mask-covered) face of the pretty young dental assistent and trying to hit on her, which inevitably came out as something like "Ryoo aff suh fruooootipul ayaahs."

Locals are fine, but I prefer to be unconscious, or at least pleasantly hallucinating.
posted by elendil71 at 9:05 AM on April 26, 2007

I had local plus a sedative (not enough to knock me out) and I was fine. I remember thinking during the procedure, "hmm, if I wasn't sedated all these strange cracking, crunching noises coming from my mouth might really bother me."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:23 AM on April 26, 2007

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