What To Expect When Undergoing A Wisdom Tooth Extraction Under Local Anesthetic

If your wisdom teeth have erupted into your mouth, or if they are not badly impacted, a dentist may recommend that you have them removed under local anesthetic rather than being completely put under for the procedure. This means you will be awake during the procedure. The area around the teeth that need to be removed will just be numbed, and you might be given a mild sedative (such as laughing gas) to calm you.

You might be a bit nervous to have your wisdom teeth removed, especially since you'll be conscious for the procedure. Knowing what to expect will ensure you fly through the extraction as smoothly as possible.

When you arrive at the dentist's office…

Depending on the condition of your wisdom teeth, your general dentist may remove them, or he or she may send you to an oral surgeon to have this done. When you arrive in the dentist or surgeon's office, you'll likely to asked a few medical questions to confirm you don't have any medical conditions that may make it dangerous for you to undergo the procedure. Once this is confirmed, you'll be brought into the exam room, where you'll likely be given a bib or apron to put on to keep your clothes clean.

After you sit down in the chair…

Once you're seated, your dentist or surgeon will likely recline your chair back. If you are to have laughing gas (nitrous oxide) during the procedure, you'll be fitted with the mask that delivers it. This mask should just fit over your nose. After inhaling a few times, you'll notice that you'll become a little drowsy and feel relaxed and at-ease. Your dentist can adjust the level of nitrous oxide delivered through the mask, and will do so if you're still feeling uneasy.

Once the laughing gas is flowing, your dentist will inject a nerve block, or local anesthetic, into your gums near the site from which the tooth will be removed. It will take just a couple of minutes for this to take affect.

Once you're numb…

Your dentist will work in your mouth with several tools. One will be a suction device to keep your mouth dry. The other will be a pliers-like instrument that is used to remove the teeth. If your teeth are not fully erupted, your dentist will also use a scalpel to cut through your gum tissue and access the tooth. Keep in mind that you won't feel any of this – you will just feel a pulling sensation as the tooth is actually pulled out of your mouth, and you may hear a suction-like noise.

After the tooth has been removed…

You dentist will pack the area with gauze and tell you to bite down gently. This will help slow the bleeding. The gauze may be changed several times as you're sitting in the chair. Once your dentist has established that your bleeding is slowing properly, you'll be ready to be driven home. Your dentist will likely send you home with a prescription for pain relievers, which you should stop and fill at the pharmacy on your way home, in case you need them.

Once you arrive home…

Take it easy for at least a day. Plan on watching plenty of television and sitting around at home. Your dentist will have provided you with after-care instructions, which you should follow closely to ensure you heal properly. These will likely include:

  • Sticking to soft foods for several days
  • Washing your mouth out with salt water a few times per day
  • Propping your head up, rather than lying flat, in order to slow the bleeding
  • Applying ice to your cheek to ease the pain
  • Avoiding smoking for at least 24 hours after surgery

If you take good care of yourself, your mouth should heal quickly, and you can be back to your normal routine within about a week. If you have any additional worries or concerns about the process of having your wisdom teeth removed under local anesthetic, talk to your dentist or oral surgeon.