To go under or not to go under
July 23, 2007 6:17 PM   Subscribe

My sister is getting her wisdom teeth taken out... and I dont want her to be put under.

Just got into an argument with my parents, and am looking for some support.

I had my wisdom teeth taken out seven or eight years ago, with just novocaine, and it was fine. no pain, quick procedure, and quick recovery. Now my sister is about to get her teeth out, and for some reason my parents are absolutely sold on having her put under. I was under the impression that you should only be unconscious if it was absolutely necessary, and whenever possible, it should be avoided, since there's a much higher chance that something will go wrong.

what do you think? i'm not looking for "i had the gas and it was fine," vs. "i had novocaine and it was great." i'd like actual reasons why the gas is a dangerous idea, or conversely why i'm a big paranoid baby and the gas is totally fine and safe.
posted by silverstatue to Health & Fitness (60 answers total)
Getting "the gas" (Nitrous Oxide) is different from being "put under".

NO is very safe and short-lived when used as anesthesia and you have a better chance of having the tank blow up than harm you.
posted by unixrat at 6:24 PM on July 23, 2007

You are not your sister. Just because you were fine with only novocaine doesn't mean she'll only be fine with only novocaine. Just because you're not afraid of the dentist or the procedure doesn't mean she isn't.

I'm not going to give you statistics and cites and links because the plain fact is, dentists wouldn't be knocking people out for wisdom teeth surgery if the overall risks outweighed the benefits. They don't use chloroform anymore. People are not dropping dead of dental surgery anesthetic.

But mainly, you are not your sister. What's good for you is not necessarily good for her. But what's best for her is to go into surgery with everyone on her side, instead of fighting over her and adding stress.
posted by headspace at 6:26 PM on July 23, 2007 [6 favorites]

We don't have nearly enough info to tell whether gas is needed. Sometimes they just pull the teeth out like any other extraction. Other times they have to crack them in two and then rip them out by pulling hard with your jaw held open further than you might think was possible. Do you really want to do that with just some novacaine?
posted by smackfu at 6:30 PM on July 23, 2007

Possibly TMI:

I can say this about novocaine and wisdom teeth: you don't anticipate the noise that the cracking of an impacted wisdom tooth out of your jaw makes. Pain or no pain, I will never forget what it was like to hear what sounded like a gun going off inside my head. Kind of a rush, kind of scared the crap out of me, lots of nervous laughter and reassurances that "that's normal." So if your sister is at all noise sensitive, I'd recommend general anesthesia, just to limit the horror of thinking they've broken your face in half.

If possible, save the teeth for a few days - they're pretty wild if they've got anything that differs from what you think your teeth might look like about them, like this (image of non-bloody, slightly weird-looking teeth).
posted by mdonley at 6:34 PM on July 23, 2007

My daughter just had it done - they had to cut her wisdom teeth out. To have had her awake for that would have been cruel and unusual punishment. With the NO, she was a little dizzy for about an hour after she came out of the procedure. That was it.

Now, the Vicodin they gave her made her very, very sick - and she only took it once. She preferred pain to extreme nausea. I've heard it's not uncommon.
posted by clarkstonian at 6:36 PM on July 23, 2007

I had mine removed under general anaesthetic and it was wonderful - very little pain afterward, it's easier for you and easier for the dental surgeon (and you have far less jaw pain). As others have said, you are not your sister, and the way you had it done is not necessarily the right way for your sister to have hers done (for the record, my sister had hers done under a general, by the same dental surgeon who did mine, and both of us have the best wisdom tooth extraction experiences of anyone we know). You are not the dentist here, and why would you assume that your parents aren't making an educated decision about this?
posted by biscotti at 6:37 PM on July 23, 2007

What does your sister want?
posted by ottereroticist at 6:37 PM on July 23, 2007 [7 favorites]

Why not meet in the middle with IV Sedation?

General anaesthetic can cause nausea, requires a more lengthy recovery, and can lead to complications. Conversely, novocaine might be rather unpleasant. All wisdom teeth operations are different. Just because novocaine was easy for you, doesn't meen she has the same wisdom teeth.

IV Sedation, on the other hand, is just an IV drip of demerol and valium. It puts the patient right out of it, but it doesn't disrupt one's system with the intensity of general anaesthetic. She'll probably be prescribed a narcotic anyway, so I find that IV Sedation makes the most sense for wisdom teeth ops.

But that's just me.
posted by ageispolis at 6:38 PM on July 23, 2007

I went under. I would rather risk death than go through the trauma of hearing that stuff.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:41 PM on July 23, 2007 [4 favorites]

Yes, you are being a big paranoid baby.

There are degrees of severity of tooth compaction and the dentist is a much better judge of what is needed than you are.

FWIW My girlfriend had compacted wisdom teeth and went under a full general anaesthetic to have hers taken out in a hospital.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 6:42 PM on July 23, 2007

I agree with otter. To be honest, who gives a crap what you want? Shouldn't it be what your SISTER wants? Or what your parents (as your sister's legal guardians if she is underage) want? I understand you are advocating a position, but really it's up to your sister or your parents.

If you are really going to argue this position, you need to figure out what kind of anesthesia the dentist uses - not everyone uses NO, some use general (IV) anesthesia (which is what I had since I had impacted wisdom teeth).

Since you're looking for statistics, American Dental Society of Anesthesiology offers this patient FAQ.
posted by MeetMegan at 6:45 PM on July 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

i had my impacted wisdom teeth removed with a cocktail of NO, valium and novicane. it was ok. i didn't care.

i had my tonsils removed at age 20. i really really really hated the sensation of sodium penthatol that hit me just before i went under, despite all the prep medicine they gave me. enough so that i have avoided it since.

NO doesn't affect everyone, btw. that might be a good reason for your sister to go under. it really helped me.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:47 PM on July 23, 2007

Also, general anesthesia is induced by IV, just like IV sedation ageispolis suggests. If your sister asks for IV sedation, make sure she/her parents know what she's getting.
posted by MeetMegan at 6:48 PM on July 23, 2007

I had my wisdom teeth (one impacted) taken out under Valium and nitrous and was perfectly fine. Nitrous can be reversed very easily and quickly by cutting it off and administering pure oxygen.

I cried during the procedure, mostly as an adverse event with Valium, and only during the part where she was cutting and pulling out the impacted tooth. I swear, I thought she was going to have to stand on top of me to pull that thing out! While I was crying, she asked me if I was ok and I remember saying "I'm fine, I just know what you're doing".

Nitrous is a lot easier to come out of than even something like IV sedation, which can cause nausea. It also makes having a needle stabbed into the roof of your mouth seem like an ok thing.

Best wishes to your sister for a tolerable procedure and NO dry sockets!
posted by zach braff's mixtape at 6:52 PM on July 23, 2007

Do you have some kind of "who is tougher than the other?" thing going on with your sister? Because, seriously, whatever it takes to help the patient get through a potentially very traumatic event should be encouraged, not the source of arguments.

Why does it matter so much TO YOU what kind of dental treatment your sister gets? Why should it involve you at all?
posted by foobario at 6:53 PM on July 23, 2007

A lot really depends on how the teeth are situated. Mine had to be cut out. I was given an IV anesthetic and was out like a light. No worries. (This was almost thirty years ago, too.)

I had NO nausea.
posted by konolia at 6:56 PM on July 23, 2007

I'll spare you the personal experience since that's not what you want, but for whatever it's worth, when I had mine out last year my doctor gave me the breakdown of what options his patients choose when he lays out all the options for them. I don't remember the exact options, but I remember that the percentage of his patients who go with general anesthesia was very close to 90%, with something like 7% choosing gas and 4% novocaine only. That alleviated my main fear about risk - the vast, vast majority of patients (at least at that practice) choose that option and are fine, it's not a weird fringe thing that only a teeny tiny minority of patients go for in very extreme circumstances.
posted by Stacey at 7:16 PM on July 23, 2007

Attempting to answer the question:
General anesthesia is an extremely low risk procedure in healthy people without significant risk factors. Try googling "general anesthesia risks".

There is a non-zero (but extremely small) chance of a mishap with anesthesia. However, balancing that extremely small risk with the likely but small benefits which not having a conscious patient might offer to the procedure and hence recovery/effectiveness is best done by the professional.

Like millions of other people; I've been under several times with no ill effects.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:17 PM on July 23, 2007

Anaesthesia is divided into local, conscious, regional and general according to the Mayo Clinic. The risk of death is 1 in 250,000 for general. I'm not sure what the rates of other complications are. Nausea is pretty common from what I hear.

I had two impacted wisdom teeth removed with just novacaine, and aside from the noise of the tooth cracking it was quite tolerable. The cracking of the tooth wasn't a big deal either. I also liked not having to fast for 8 hours ahead of time, especially since I was on a liquid diet for a few days afterwards.

However, it shouldn't be a big deal either way.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:19 PM on July 23, 2007

Adding on to all the other people...sure, maybe not going under is fine, given the situation and the severity. But you haven't given us any info about this. Really, I have some trust that dentists tend to know what they're doing in these situations and they're not going on drunken "let's anesthetize everyone!" power sprees.

Also, a counter example somewhat similar to your logic... I've had small surface cavities drilled without any novacaine, at the advice of my dentist. It was tolerable. Would I recommend this to everyone with cavities? No way. It all depends, so why are you expecting your sister to have the exact same experience as you?
posted by jetskiaccidents at 7:21 PM on July 23, 2007

thanks for all the input so far.... please continue to convince me that i'm paranoid and silly and she'll be fine with the gas!

as a few people have asked, she doesnt really have a preference, and will just go along with whatever my parents choose. and dont worry, my parents and i are just calmly discussing it. it's not like we're creating a hostile situation or making her scared or anything like that.

To answer Foobario, i was just worried that it would be dangerous. i've heard stories (probably just urban legends) about bad stuff happening like people not regaining consciousness, etc, and this is my baby sister so i'm paranoid about her safety!

but i'm feeling much better from all your comments, so please keep 'em coming.
posted by silverstatue at 7:22 PM on July 23, 2007

I had two infected, impacted wisdom teeth surgically removed with just a local (no sedative). The dentist and I decided to do it this way after some pretty involved discussion and a number of factors were involved. They included medical (looking at her notes and the xrays, the dentist deciding how to actually do the procedure, discussion of what was actually wrong with my teeth), psychological (her experience with me as a patient, my understanding of what it would sound and feel like) and even just purely practical (I didn't have a ride home afterwards). In the end my dentist made a recommendation and I agreed with it.

Unless you've been at every dental appointment with your sister and you have enough dental training to understand the medical aspects of what the dentist is going to do then I don't see how you have anywhere near enough understanding of your sister's case to be giving input on her treatment. That's between her, her guardians (i.e. your parents) and the dentist.

My extractions went very well and I wasn't at all bothered by the noises and whatever. But the reason it went so well is that we made a sound treatment decision based on my specific case. Let your sister do the same.
posted by shelleycat at 7:23 PM on July 23, 2007

my cousin went in for the full anesthetic when having her wisdom teeth pulled, unfortunately the oxygen tank was never turned on during the procedure, (anesthesiologist never checked) she has been in a vegetative state for the past 20 years.

posted by kanemano at 7:23 PM on July 23, 2007

Seriously -- back off. This is between your sister and her dentist. And she's underage, possibly her/your parents. But certainly not you or anyone else.

There's nothing that unsafe about anesthesia; certainly there are risks, but that's what all those fancy medical licenses are for. If the dentist and anesthesiologist think that the risk is worth the benefit of not putting the patient through a lot of pain and distress, then you should probably defer to them.

Just because your wisdom teeth were taken out easily doesn't mean that hers will be. Weird things happen with teeth, particularly wisdom teeth. If your sister wants IV sedation or a general anesthetic, and the dentist/surgeon agrees, support her decision -- don't fight it.

FWIW, I've had IV sedation for several major oral surgery procedures and found it to be effectively the same as general anesthesia; woke up / regained awareness in recovery, no memory of anything, apparently unconscious throughout.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:30 PM on July 23, 2007

When I was in high school I had two wisdom teeth out. (I've still got the other two.) The roots for one of them were wrapped around the mandible on both sides, which meant it was impossible to just break it loose and pull it out. They had to use a saw to cut two slots in it in a plus sign pattern, then use a hammer and chisel to break the tooth into four pieces, each having just one root. Then each one could be broken loose from the mandible and pulled out.

The oral surgeon didn't use gas, but my mom got a prescription for Valium for me ahead of time, and I was so stoned during the procedure that they could have removed my jaw and I wouldn't have cared. Frankly, I'm glad it was like that.

Wisdom tooth removal can be extremely complicated. It varies enormously from person to person. Just because it was easy for you doesn't mean it will be easy for her.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:37 PM on July 23, 2007

Some people's wisdom teeth pop right out easily.

Some people, like me, are blessed with nothing but impacted teeth. I didn't have any to save because they had to shatter mine while they were still in my jawbone to get them out, otherwise they would have ripped the teeth directly in front out with them.

It took, no exaggeration, hours. And I only had three to remove in the first place.

What worked for you won't necessarily work for her.
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:40 PM on July 23, 2007

Kanemano, after a few incidents like that in the 1970's and 1980's, the FDA changed the regulations on that kind of equipment. Now there's an oxygen sensor which sets off an alarm if no oxygen is present in the gas mixture.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:40 PM on July 23, 2007

Doesn't really help my cousin but like they say "a one in a million chance happens 300 times a day in America"

Kanemano, after a few incidents like that in the 1970's and 1980's, the FDA changed the regulations on that kind of equipment. Now there's an oxygen sensor which sets off an alarm if no oxygen is present in the gas mixture.
posted by kanemano at 7:51 PM on July 23, 2007

I was given an IV anesthetic and was out like a light. No worries.

I was IV sedated as well in high school when they pulled mine. Counting backwards from ten I think I made it to seven. I even remember partially coming out of it partway through, but they put me back under quick enough that I still can't be 100% sure I didn't imagine it.

I also had four teeth pulled under just novocaine when I was ten.

If you want your comparison: one sucked, one didn't. Want to quess which was which?

So I guess I'm wondering if you're sure they're going to use gas, or if you're just assuming.
posted by Cyrano at 7:55 PM on July 23, 2007

I'm a high-risk patient for being put under because I have low blood pressure and chronic medical conditions. But NO is not the same as full anesthesia, so it was not a problem for me. I wasn't totally under, but my memories are really really fuzzy ( I drifted off to Iron & Wine) and there was no pain.

Then my teeth got infected and the real pain started. I was out for over a week.
posted by melissam at 8:00 PM on July 23, 2007

I was sedated by IV, and I would highly recommend that route. From my perspective, I did not remember anything about the procedure- I only remember getting up out of the chair afterward. However, apparently, during the procedure itself, a patient under sedation remains conscious-- they can understand and comply with the doctor's verbal instructions, and they can answer questions. They are not "under" in the sense of being knocked out, and they are breathing at all times under their own power. The sedation just kind of helps you forget what happened after the fact. It seems to me that sedation combines almost all the benefits of general, without most of the more scary risks.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 8:01 PM on July 23, 2007

When I got my wisdom teeth out, I was given an IV full of the mystery liquid of unconsciousness. I was fine, your sister probably will be too... but it's her choice.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:09 PM on July 23, 2007

To second what mdonley said, I had the anesthesia - the surgeon notified me that my lower wisdom teeth broken into about 15 pieces. I would NOT have wanted to be awake for the surgery. I had the lower two wisdom teeth impacted severely.

My sister stayed awake with novo several years ago. I don't think she's been back to remove the uppers.

After my surgery, I was loopy and what not. But I was fine. I would not want to be awake and remember the experience.
posted by EastCoastBias at 8:14 PM on July 23, 2007

I've had eight teeth pulled - you read that correctly, 8 - in two separate procedures. Both times were under general anaesthetic. The first time when I was 13 or 14 in preparation for getting braces (my teeth were crazy crowded, I didn't have enough real estate on my jaw to hold all the teeth). The second time when I was 18, to get all four of my wisdom teeth removed. Zero complications either time. A little woozy afterward when waking up, and that's about it. I'm female, for what that's worth. I could take it and quite frankly, I would not have been much of a trouper if I had been awake either time. Let your sister do it the way she wants to do it.
posted by brain cloud at 8:17 PM on July 23, 2007

i nth letting your sister do whatever she wants. this is not your mouth and not your decision.

i was put under with the same mystery liquid that fibbertigibbet was given and I loved it. I blinked and was being led out of the office being told it was over. i wish i could be put under for all sorts of things, visits to the DMV, family dinners...
posted by ThFullEffect at 8:19 PM on July 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

The anesthesia will be administered by a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) or an anesthesiologist (MD). Those people have advanced education and experience in selecting and administering anesthesia. The oral surgeon will also be there. I have a hard time believing that your research is going to uncover any secret risks that will be unknown to the medical professionals.

If your sister was worried, this would be a different conversation. As she is fine with it, you need to stop undermining the trust she has in her care providers. To make her paranoid is counterproductive and unkind.
posted by 26.2 at 8:22 PM on July 23, 2007

Quit trying to micromanage your sister's operation/life. What matters most is what your sister wants. Is being "put under" dangerous? Yes, all operations that involve anesthesia have some inherit danger. The chances are very low that something bad would happen, though. Not to be morbid, but your sister has a much higher chance of an accident on the car ride to the clinic than during the operation.

When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, I was glad they put me under. I had all four done at once, and all four had to be chiseled--yes, chiseled--and picked out bit by bit. Not something I wanted to be conscious of.
posted by zardoz at 8:31 PM on July 23, 2007

One other thing to keep in mind ... if you're concerned about the inherent statistical danger of anesthesia ... realize you're in far, far more danger driving your car to and from the dentist than you are in the chair.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:36 PM on July 23, 2007

I had my wisdom teeth taken out 2 at a time with just the novocaine. The dentist said (with surprise) that it was the easiest extraction he'd ever done, easier than regular teeth. The next day I was able to be one of 2 drivers on an 8 hour road trip, and was back the following week to do the other 2 with gusto. Yes, there was swelling, but it was largely manageable. The most traumatic thing about it was my then-boyfriend pointing and laughing at my hamster cheeks, really.

My brother went under general anaesthetic, and was in hospital for 2 days. His teeth were so severely impacted they had to splt the teeth up, cut them out and he was severely affected by it, not able to eat hard foods for many days after.

At the time, I joked a lot about how I had a much higher pain threshold than my brother, but really, it varies SO much from person to person that it's really not for anyone to judge. And then emotional/psychological factors come into play - some people just can't bear the thought of any oral work done in their mouth, some are absolutely fine with it.

Leave the decision to your sister, and let your parents advise her. Give her your experiences, and leave it after that.
posted by miz brown at 8:42 PM on July 23, 2007

I'm soooo glad I got knocked out (IV). I counted back from 10, woke up seconds later and went home. I felt super-drunk afterwards, went home and passed out for 12 hours. I didnt take anything afterwards, no pain in the morning, I was slept on a couch most of the day watching TV and eating not-so-solid foods. I was more paranoid about getting a dry socket than anything about the actual surgery. No complications for me!
posted by SirStan at 9:24 PM on July 23, 2007

I had mine out and thankfully was knocked out. No memory of it except my mom keeps saying I woke up crying.

But I just took a friend to have it done. He turned out to have monsterously strong bones and it took twice as long as they said, 90 minutes to get all four, and they also needed to take some bone. Thank God he wasn't awake for that (and that I was there to drive him home).
posted by GaelFC at 10:02 PM on July 23, 2007

I used to worry that I'd blab VERY MAJOR SECRETS when I was under anaesthesia. Does that have anything to do with your worries?

But I got my impacted wisdom teeth hacked out in pieces under novocaine, because the dentists thought I'd "react badly" to the gas (being obviously "off in the head"). It was rather unpleasant during the "surgery," I hurt like bloody hell as soon as the novocaine wore off, and the prescription they gave me was only for Tylenol with codeine. Compared to that my vasectomy was almost FUN.

Everybody "played doctor" as kids, and nobody really needs to be conscious and in pain during such major dental work. I say if she can take the gas she should.
posted by davy at 10:09 PM on July 23, 2007

You are a big paranoid (and intrusive, and controlling) baby, because you're in no position to insist your sister use Novocaine if she wants to be asleep. Period. It's none of your business. Back off and let her make her own decisions regarding her comfort.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:08 PM on July 23, 2007

My brother (who has a rather full medical history) was put under early last year for his wisdom teeth (4) and molars (2) removal. He couldn't eat solid food for a month and a half.

No ill side effects from being put under. Although he was kind of skinny by the end of it.

Chances of me staying awake when I get my wisdoms done? Zip.
posted by ysabet at 12:34 AM on July 24, 2007

Like zardoz, I had to have all four of my wisdom teeth out at once, and they had to be broken/chiseled out. The roots of one were up into a sinus, and they were coming in at 45 degree angles to the rest of my teeth. I was having to take tylenol with codeine just to deal with the pain before the surgery.

My oral surgeon basically didn't give me any option other than IV sedation for it. I was 19 and I tend to get the bad panics with NO. I had a bad reaction (didn't wake up for almost an hour after the medical staff predicted; I'm told I wasn't breathing properly, etc) and was sick as hell for the next 24 hours (phenergan can be a person's best friend). Still, I would have chosen getting knocked out for the procedure over dealing with having to be aware for it. Once I was over that, I didn't even need all the pain meds they prescribed.

Please let your sister and your parents decide what she can deal with. Everyone has their own tolerances.
posted by lilywing13 at 12:34 AM on July 24, 2007

Her dentist/anesthesiologist doesn't have some secret agenda to push some risky option on your sister. They're going to advise based on their best judgment. Which is informed by experience and training, whereas you've had your teeth out, what, once? And you magically know that because it was fine for you with novocaine, it will be for her as well even though her teeth could be completely different from yours. That's crazy talk.
posted by juv3nal at 2:03 AM on July 24, 2007

Do some research on the statistics. Your sister does many things which are more dangerous than anesthesia every day. Stop being so controlling and control yourself.
posted by miss tea at 4:52 AM on July 24, 2007

Wow. I'm supposed to have mine out in a couple months and I've always been vehemently opposed to being knocked out, but this thread has convinced me to go for it.

I apologize for piggybacking and know it's tangential at best, but anyone know if age is a factor in how difficult it is to remove wisdom teeth (I'm 39)?
posted by JaredSeth at 6:00 AM on July 24, 2007

1) why is it your business? You are not your sister. If she is underage, she is your parents' responsibility, not yours. Repeat after me "I am not the Mommy". Often. Until it sticks.

2) you do not have your sister's teeth. Maybe her wisdom teeth are badly impacted, and a lot of work needs to be done. If the dentist thinks that the surgery (and that's what it is) will go better with anesthesia, there is a good chance s/he is correct.

3) You are not her dentist/oral surgeon, either. Perhaps she has a history of wanting to be 'out' when she gets fillings, etc. I have a friend who needs NO for cleanings. My husband gets surface fillings without any drugs at all. Neither is wrong, it's just personal.

4)There is a big difference between general anesthesia (which is the one they try not to use unless they need to) and NO (which is what dentists generally use).
posted by jlkr at 6:07 AM on July 24, 2007

I did NO and novocain when I had all my wisdom teeth taken out. My dentist even put headphones on me, so I got to rock-out while getting wonderfully blissed-out on the NO. It truly is the only way to go when facing serious dental work.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:08 AM on July 24, 2007

I had novocaine, but no IV or nitrous oxide. I was conscious the whole time and I still think how disturbing it all sounded. I thought the dentist had his boot in my mouth at one point, he was pushing so damn hard on my jaw. However, I was lucky he hit a nerve with novocaine in the top of my palate so it completely numbed my head.
posted by rabbitsnake at 6:24 AM on July 24, 2007

Given that novacaine has zero effect on me and that my wisdom teeth were impacted, I "went under," though I don't remember whether it was anesthesia or IV sedation. I don't think it was full anesthesia, though. In any case, had I not gone under, I would have been in excruciating pain for an hour or two. It was the same for my sister, and neither of us is currently in a vegetative state. I'm pretty sure you're more likely to die in a car accident than having something happen to you with regard to anesthesia.

You're being paranoid. Your sister is most likely old enough to make her own medical decisions for the most part, so let her. Stop arguing about it and be there for her when she's passed out on the couch with a swollen face and can only eat jello.
posted by liesbyomission at 7:17 AM on July 24, 2007

Just had all four wisdom teeth out two months ago under general anesthesia. It went so remarkably smooth, painless and trauma-free, that I've been singing the praises of going under to anyone who will listen. I'm absolutely terrified of the dentist, and this made the whole experience feel like it was about 15 seconds long.
posted by waxpancake at 7:42 AM on July 24, 2007

JaredSeth, my husband just had his out this year. He is 34 and was knocked out. He was woozy afterwards for a bit but was fine before we left the oral surgeon's office. He ate soft foods for a few days and had to flush the extraction sites for a week or two afterwards. I was surprised at how fast his procedure was. No biggie.

I had mine out when I was 17. I also was knocked out. The decision was made because it made the procedure easier on the oral surgeon since he didn't have a tense, uncomfortable patient. It also made it easier on me because I didn't want to see, hear, or smell anything that was being done. I lived in rural Montana at the time and was even able to read a book for the hour drive home. Again, no biggie.
posted by onhazier at 8:05 AM on July 24, 2007

Why don't you listen to the dentist? They usually know what they are talking about. That's what they go to school for. I'm sure he isn't suggesting nitrous because he has nothing better to do.

I was sedated by IV when I had mine done. (It was done at a hospital.)
posted by chunking express at 8:18 AM on July 24, 2007

I have all four of mine pulled (including a couple that needed sawing) with novocain only because...well, really, because I was an uninsured grad student and it saved hundreds of dollars over heavier sedation. My oral surgeon and I worked out hand signals to use in case the pain was too bad, in which case he would have administered NO or IV sedation depending on how things were going and how much work was left. I don't remember there being much pain. He also prepared me for the noise, so much so that the actual noise wasn't so bad.

(Looking back, I think his gruesome description of the noise was also his filter for whether I'd make a good novocain patient -- he might have insisted on sedation if I had tensed up.)

I drove myself home, returned to work that day, ate solid foods the next day, never took additional pain meds, and had no complications. While it's purely anecdotal, I'm glad I spent the money on an oral surgeon with a strong reputation even if it meant skimping on sedation. Friends who paid similar amounts for a general dentist and IV sedation tended to have less positive short-term outcomes.
posted by backupjesus at 8:27 AM on July 24, 2007

thanks everyone for the input! um... slightly less thanks to a couple kinda rude answers... my parents asked for my opinion, and we were just having a mature debate about things. no one was trying to control or dominate anyone! the dentist said either option is fine and its whatever we choose, so its not like i'm doubting the dentist either.

Anyway, i'm glad to see that the gas or IV etc option does not seem like a big risk. i would still never in a million years get it, but i feel better about her getting it.
posted by silverstatue at 8:51 AM on July 24, 2007

Why be awake for a horrible procedure if you don't have to be? I had mine out, was put under, had "five seconds" of running through fields of technicolor flowers and then was awoken with a headache and guaze in my mouth. There's no reason to experience hours of fear, scary sounds, and having your jaw pried open, etc. if you don't have to. You're just misinformed about how dangerous this is. People do it all the time. The people who weren't put under, in my experience, are the ones with tougher recovery times.

And I understand your concern, but this isn't about you at all - whatever your sister wants after discussing with the doctor is what's important.
posted by agregoli at 8:55 AM on July 24, 2007

Nth-ing the support for nitrous. It will not 'knock her out' and it will make the discomfort virtually nonexistant. I had nitrous when I got my wisdom teeth out at age 13, and I don't even want to imagine the horror going without it. I'd endorse nitrous for every dentist visit and maybe even for for simple brushing and flossing.
posted by mullingitover at 12:31 PM on July 24, 2007

I got my wisdom teeth taken out when I was 16, and I was put under and very glad that I was too.

You never mentioned if her teeth were/were not impacted, but if they are impacted she needs to be put under anyway for the sake of her sanity and everyone else's for that matter. Now I am not a dentist (have to cover myself you know) but I don't think being put under is such a big deal in this case. If I was told I wouldn't be put under I think I would freak out. I imagine there would be lots of blood, and that may just cause too much stress for her. But I am not her, obviously, and she should probably be the one who's opinion matters the most. No matter what your feelings are on the matter it should be between her and the dentist.
posted by slc228 at 8:44 AM on July 25, 2007

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