Nearly 10 million wisdom teeth are removed over the course of a single year.
As a dentist, we understand that you want to learn how to make this often unpleasant experience as easy as possible for your patients. You want them to enjoy every aspect of your dental practice, after all.
Prescribing them the right pain management medication and talking them through the procedure beforehand is certainly helpful. But nothing is quite as essential as the wisdom teeth anesthesia and sedatives that you choose to use.
In this post, we’ll walk you through some of the most common sedatives that are used throughout the wisdom teeth removal procedure.
Then, you can decide, based on the needs of the patient and the severity of the surgery, which options are right for specific procedures. Let’s get right into it.
1. General Anesthesia
First, let’s examine the two biggest wisdom teeth anesthesia options.
General anesthesia is when a patient goes completely under during the process of the wisdom teeth extraction. Your patient will fall asleep, and will remain asleep throughout the entire procedure.
While in some cases, patients do wake up under general anesthesia, this is very rare — and you should expect to be able to put them back to sleep quite quickly.
General anesthesia is usually given intravenously, which makes it even more effective.
In most cases, this type of anesthesia is best for patients with dental phobias, or those who have certain medical conditions or are on specific medications. In some cases, depending on the health of the patient, you may need to be in a hospital setting in order to deliver general anesthesia.
2. Local Anesthesia
To continue our discussion of local anesthesia vs general anesthesia, let’s now take a closer look at the former.
If you give local anesthesia to your patients, they will remain conscious during the wisdom teeth extraction. For many patients, this certainly isn’t ideal. However, for those who cannot undergo general anesthesia for medical reasons, or for those who have a fear of being completely under, it’s an excellent alternative.
Usually, an anesthetic like lidocaine will be injected into the space surrounding the wisdom teeth. This creates a feeling of numbness. In addition to receiving local anesthesia during the wisdom teeth procedure, many patients are given common sedatives as well.
3. Nitrous Oxide Sedation
Of course, most of your patients will likely ask you about laughing gas wisdom teeth options.
While nitrous oxide is certainly possible to use during a wisdom teeth extraction, it likely won’t be strong enough on its own. That’s why it’s usually combined with a local anesthetic.
Your patient will gently breathe in a blend of oxygen and nitrous oxide, which will help to sedate them. A mask will be placed over the nose, and they’ll simply breathe in. Usually, laughing gas only takes between two to five minutes to take the full effect.
However, in many cases, the level of sedation is felt immediately after breathing it in.
It allows you to adjust the total level of the patient’s sedation, which means that the patient will be able to signal to you when they need another breath of it.
However, it will not cause them to lose consciousness. It also works as an analgesic, which means that the patient will not be able to feel any pain.
4. Oral Sedatives
Some of the other common sedatives associated with a wisdom teeth removal procedure are medications like Valium or Ativan.
These are pills or liquids that the patient swallows before the procedure starts to help them to calm down. In some cases, they can also be prescribed after the procedure is finished, to help them to manage the pain and stress.
However, because oral sedatives do have the potential for more serious side effects, it’s important that you talk to your patient about their current medications and any medical conditions that they have.
Explain to them that while there are many reasons for wisdom teeth removal, if they are allergic to or can’t take pain management medications, they need to know what to expect during the procedure and in the days following it.
When a Patient Wakes up from Sedation
As a dental professional, whether you use anesthesia or sedatives, it’s up to you to carefully monitor and assist your patient as they come out of anesthesia.
If you’ve given them sedatives, you’ll need to carefully monitor the effects as well.
You can ask them questions, help them to calm down, and tell them when the numbness is likely to completely wear off.
You should always instruct your patients that they shouldn’t drive after the procedure. In some cases, they will also need to avoid eating in the hours leading up to their wisdom teeth extraction.
Make it a point to caution and educate your patients about how to safely and properly use any painkillers that you’ve given to them after the procedure is over.
Which of These Common Sedatives Is Right for Your Patients?
As a dental professional or a current student of dentistry, you likely already know a lot about the difference between sedation vs anesthesia.
However, we hope that this post has helped to briefly explain some of the most common sedatives and the effects that they’ll usually have on your patient.
Above all, remember that each patient is different — what is safe and effective for one might not be the right fit for another.
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