Anesthesia For Wisdom Tooth Extraction (2023 Guide)

Learn everything you need to know about anesthesia for wisdom tooth extraction. Learn about the benefits and risks of the different types so you can make an informed decision for your oral health.

11 min readAnesthesia for Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Wisdom tooth extraction is a prevalent dental procedure that millions of individuals undergo every year. A vital component of this surgery is wisdom teeth anesthesia, which is employed to numb the surgical site and alleviate pain.

If you are one of the countless people facing a wisdom tooth extraction and feeling a bit nervous about the whole ordeal, then fear not. Because in this guide we will cover everything you need to know.

This is the ultimate go-to guide for 2023 that will give you all the details on anesthesia options for your upcoming dental adventure. We will delve into the various types of anesthesia used during wisdom tooth extractions, explain how they function, and address some commonly asked questions to ease your concerns.

Say goodbye to those jitters and hello to a confident, well-informed you!

Wisdom Teeth Anesthesia: A Closer Overview

Before examining in detail the different forms of anesthesia available for wisdom tooth extraction, let's take a moment to understand why utilizing anesthesia is so crucial for this procedure.

Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, usually emerge during late adolescence or early adulthood. However, due to a lack of space in the mouth, they can often lead to overcrowding, infections, or other dental complications. To prevent these issues from escalating, dentists might suggest extracting the problematic teeth.

The use of anesthesia during wisdom tooth extraction ensures that the patient experiences minimal discomfort or even no pain at all throughout the procedure. Depending on the unique needs or preferences of each patient, dentists have the option to use local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia for the removal of wisdom teeth.

How Does Wisdom Teeth Anesthesia Work? A Comprehensive Explanation

Anesthesia is an essential component of dental procedures, as it works by temporarily blocking pain signals or altering perception and consciousness, ensuring that the patient remains comfortable during the procedure.

The effective use of anesthesia enables dental professionals to perform various procedures, ranging from simple fillings to complex oral surgeries, without causing undue distress or discomfort to the patient.

By numbing the nerves in the targeted area or inducing a state of relaxation or unconsciousness, anesthesia minimizes pain and anxiety while allowing the dental team to work efficiently and effectively. In addition to improving patient comfort, anesthesia also promotes a more controlled environment for dental professionals, allowing for greater precision and successful outcomes in their work.

The Three Main Types Of Anesthesia

The administration of anesthesia and its subsequent effects can vary depending on the type used. Let’s thoroughly explore the three main types of anesthesia employed for wisdom teeth extraction, providing a detailed understanding of how each method works.

Local Anesthesia

Local anesthesia is the most commonly used type of anesthesia for dental procedures, including the removal of wisdom teeth.

This technique involves injecting the anesthetic agent directly into the soft tissues surrounding the specific tooth that requires extraction. As a result, the area becomes numb, effectively blocking pain signals from the nerves and preventing them from reaching the brain.

During this procedure, patients will likely experience a slight stinging or burning sensation as the anesthetic is injected. Nevertheless, this sensation is short-lived, and the numbness that follows effectively ensures that the patient does not experience any pain during the extraction process.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is typically reserved for more complicated wisdom teeth removals or cases in which patients experience extreme anxiety about the procedure.

This type of anesthesia involves administering anesthetic gas through a mask or intravenous (IV) medications that are directly injected into the patient's bloodstream. Either method induces unconsciousness, rendering the patient wholly unaware of the surgical procedure taking place.

As a result, patients under general anesthesia are essentially rendered unable to perceive or experience any pain in the extraction area. Importantly, general anesthesia is a highly regulated process, with trained anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists monitoring the patient's vital signs throughout the surgery to ensure a safe and pain-free experience.


Sedation anesthesia serves as a middle ground between local and general anesthesia options.

This approach involves administering oral medication, IV drugs, or inhaled medications (such as nitrous oxide, commonly known as "laughing gas") to help the patient feel more relaxed and drowsy during the procedure. Notably, patients undergoing sedation anesthesia remain conscious, but their awareness of pain is significantly reduced.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of sedation anesthesia is that patients often have little to no memory of the surgery, which can alleviate any anxiety or fear associated with the extraction process.

In addition, sedation anesthesia is generally considered safer than general anesthesia, as it still allows patients to maintain their protective reflexes and does not require the same level of monitoring.

Local anesthesia, general anesthesia, and sedation anesthesia all offer unique advantages to dental patients undergoing wisdom teeth extractions.

The appropriate method will ultimately depend on factors such as the complexity of the extraction, the patient's anxiety level, and the recommendation of the dental professional.

How Bad Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Without Anesthesia

Choosing to undergo a wisdom tooth extraction without any form of anesthesia is highly discouraged due to the severe discomfort and pain usually associated with the procedure.

The experience can become incredibly unpleasant for the patient and may even lead to unwarranted anxiety and stress. To ensure a smooth, safe, and less traumatic extraction process, appropriate anesthesia is strongly advised.

Risks Of Not Using Anesthesia:

  • Intense pain: Wisdom teeth removal can involve cutting through gums, drilling, and pulling teeth. Without anesthesia, tooth extraction pain is likely to be quite extreme and can make the procedure not possible.

  • Higher stress and anxiety levels: The anticipation of pain and an overall uncomfortable experience can cause anxiety and stress for patients.

  • Difficulty for the dentist: The dentist may find it challenging to perform the extraction on an anxious and uncomfortable patient, possibly leading to a longer and more complicated procedure.

How Long Does Wisdom Teeth Anesthesia Last: A Comprehensive Overview Of Duration And After-Effects

When it comes to anesthesia duration for a wisdom teeth extraction procedure, there is a range of factors to consider, including the type of anesthesia used and individual-specific factors.

Here, we will provide an in-depth analysis of the duration for various anesthesia types and their potential after-effects.

Local Anesthesia

Following an injection of local anesthesia, patients can expect its numbing effects to last for a few hours, typically around three to four hours. As the anesthetic wears off, patients may slowly feel the return of sensation to the area where it was administered.


For patients who undergo sedation during their wisdom teeth removal, the effects can last for several hours after the procedure. Depending on the specific sedative used, patients may feel groggy or drowsy for a few hours following the procedure.

General Anesthesia

The duration of general anesthesia's effects is dependent on the type and dosage of the anesthetic agent used during the procedure. In most cases, patients may experience grogginess for a few hours after the surgery. However, it's essential to arrange for a ride home after the procedure, as driving under the influence of anesthesia can be dangerous.

How Painful Is Tooth Extraction Without Anesthesia

Tooth extraction without proper anesthesia can be an incredibly painful and traumatic experience for the patient. This is due to the sensitivity of the nerves in the mouth and the pressure exerted on the tooth and gums during the extraction process.

Ensuring that adequate anesthesia is used during the procedure not only makes it less painful for the patient but also facilitates a smoother and more efficient process for the dentist.

When performed without anesthesia, tooth extractions can cause significant discomfort, ranging from mild to severe.

This can make the procedure incredibly challenging for both the patient and the dentist, as any sudden movements or sharp pain can lead to complications during the extraction process. Therefore, it is pivotal to administer anesthesia during tooth extraction procedures to optimize patient comfort and safety.

The Difference Between Local And General Anesthesia

Now that you have a general overview of the different types of anesthesia and why it is so commonly used for tooth extraction, let’s take a closer look at the specific differences between local and general anesthesia.

Local Anesthesia: A Simpler, Targeted Approach

Local anesthesia involves the administration of an anesthetic agent to numb a specific area of the mouth for a short duration, making it a more straightforward and quicker process.

This type of anesthesia is used in most dental procedures, including tooth extractions, and is effective in reducing pain and discomfort during the procedure.

Side effects associated with local anesthesia are generally minimal and are usually limited to numbness or tingling near the injection site.

General Anesthesia: Comprehensive And Thorough

In contrast to local anesthesia, general anesthesia renders the patient unconscious for the entire duration of the procedure. This is achieved through the use of various medications and is typically reserved for more complex dental procedures, such as oral surgery or when a patient has a heightened anxiety regarding dental treatment.

The use of general anesthesia requires extensive preparation and monitoring by an anesthesiologist during the procedure, and the recovery time is usually longer compared to local anesthesia.

General anesthesia also carries a higher risk of complications, such as allergic reactions or postoperative nausea and vomiting. However, it ensures the patient is unresponsive and completely comfortable throughout the treatment.

Overall, the choice between local and general anesthesia depends on the individual patient's needs, the nature of the dental procedure, and the dentist's recommendations. In any case, it is crucial to have access to an effective anesthetic method to minimize pain and ensure the success of the tooth extraction process.

Is Wisdom Teeth Anesthesia Safe?

Wisdom teeth anesthesia is generally considered safe and is widely used in dental practices around the world. It allows patients to undergo the removal of wisdom teeth comfortably and with minimal pain. However, like any medical procedure, wisdom teeth anesthesia carries some inherent risks, albeit small.

To ensure the safe administration of anesthesia, your dentist or oral surgeon will take a thorough medical history, including information about any medications you're currently taking and any allergies you may have. This comprehensive evaluation assists in minimizing potential complications and helps to tailor the anesthesia procedure to each patient.

It is also essential to follow your dentist's pre-operative instructions, such as fasting or necessary adjustments to medications, as these can impact the safety of the anesthesia.

Does Wisdom Teeth Anesthesia Make You Loopy?

There are various types of anesthesia used for wisdom teeth removal, and their effects on cognitive functions can differ.

Sedation and general anesthesia can indeed cause temporary grogginess, dizziness, and disorientation, leading to a sensation often described as 'loopy.' This effect is due to the anesthetic agents' impact on the brain and central nervous system.

However, local anesthesia typically does not result in these symptoms, as it primarily numbs the area around the wisdom teeth without affecting the patient's awareness, cognition, or ability to communicate. With local anesthesia, patients can expect minimal disruptions to cognitive functions during and after the procedure.

It's essential to arrange for a responsible adult to accompany you to your wisdom teeth removal appointment, especially if you'll be receiving sedation or general anesthesia. This person can help to ensure your safety and well-being as the anesthesia wears off and any lingering grogginess gradually dissipates.

Does Wisdom Teeth Anesthesia Make You Say Weird Things?

When it comes to wisdom teeth removal, patients often wonder whether the anesthesia used during the procedure might lead to them saying or doing strange things during or after the surgery.

It is essential to understand that there are different types of anesthesia, and their effects may vary.

Sedation or general anesthesia can sometimes cause temporary confusion, disorientation, or forgetfulness, which might lead a person to say or do unusual things during the recovery period. However, local anesthesia, which is also used in some dental procedures, typically does not result in these side effects.

Anesthesia, particularly general anesthesia or sedation, may be necessary during wisdom teeth removal to ensure the patient's comfort and prevent any anxiety related to the procedure.

It is worth mentioning that the likelihood of someone saying or doing bizarre things due to anesthesia is generally low, and such side effects may not affect everyone.

When Does Wisdom Teeth Anesthesia Wear Off?

Many patients are curious about when the effects of anesthesia will wear off following wisdom teeth removal. Here, it is again essential to differentiate between local anesthesia and sedation or general anesthesia, as they have different durations and intensities of effects.

Local anesthesia, which numbs a specific area in the mouth, typically wears off within a few hours after the procedure.

Sedation or general anesthesia, on the other hand, may take longer to wear off, and the patient may feel groggy, drowsy, or disoriented for a few hours after the procedure.

Although the majority of the effects usually dissipate within 24 hours, it is crucial for the patient to have a friend or family member drive them home, as they should not operate a vehicle until the anesthesia has entirely worn off.

How Long Does Wisdom Teeth Anesthesia Last?

As we discussed earlier, the duration of anesthesia for wisdom teeth extraction varies depending on the type of anesthesia used.

For example, local anesthesia typically lasts for a few hours and numbs only the targeted area of the mouth. In contrast, sedation and general anesthesia can have longer-lasting effects, lasting several hours and requiring more recovery time.

How Much Does Wisdom Teeth Anesthesia Cost?

Determining exactly how much a tooth extraction costs can be a bit tricky, as it can vary greatly depending on the chosen method and the individual's insurance coverage.

Generally, local anesthesia is the most affordable option for dental procedures, as it requires less monitoring and fewer medications. The cost of local anesthesia can range from $50 to $200 per injection, depending on the dental practice and the region.

On the other hand, sedation can be more expensive, as it necessitates the administration of additional drugs and the presence of anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists for supervision.

The cost of nitrous oxide sedation, for example, can range from $25 to $100 per 15-minute increment, while the cost of IV sedation can vary from $250 to $900 per hour, depending on the provider and location.

General anesthesia is typically the most expensive option, with costs ranging from $300 to $2,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the procedure, the duration of the surgery, and the fees associated with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist. It is important to note that these costs are often separate from the fees charged by the dentist or oral surgeon for the actual procedure.

Keep in mind that some insurance policies may cover part or even all of the anesthesia costs. It's crucial to thoroughly review your dental insurance plan, consult with your dentist, and get a clear estimate of the anesthesia costs involved.

How Bad Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Without Anesthesia?

Undergoing wisdom teeth removal without anesthesia can be incredibly painful, traumatic, and even dangerous.

Wisdom teeth are located at the back of the mouth, and their extraction often requires surgical intervention. Without anesthesia to numb the area, the pain and discomfort can be unbearable.

Attempting to extract wisdom teeth without anesthesia can lead to increased anxiety or panic, causing more harm than good. Thus, it's essential to use the appropriate anesthesia - be it local, sedation, or general - for a comfortable, safe, and effective tooth extraction experience.

What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used For Wisdom Teeth?

Different types of anesthesia can be used for wisdom teeth extraction, depending on the patient's needs, preferences, and the complexity of the procedure. The most commonly employed choices include:

  1. Local anesthesia: This is administered using injections near the extraction site, numbing only the targeted area. The patient remains fully conscious and alert throughout the procedure.

  2. Sedation: Sedation involves using medication to help patients feel relaxed and drowsy during the procedure. Some common options include oral sedatives and intravenous (IV) sedation. Patients remain conscious but may not remember much about the extraction.

  3. General anesthesia: This is the most comprehensive form of anesthesia, rendering patients completely unconscious for the duration of the procedure. It can be administered through IV, or in some cases, inhaled as a gas.

Your dentist or oral surgeon will assess the complexity of your extraction, your anxiety levels, and your overall health to determine the best anesthesia option for your wisdom teeth removal.

What To Do Before Wisdom Teeth Removal With Local Anesthesia

Before undergoing a wisdom teeth removal procedure that involves local anesthesia, there are several crucial steps that patients must take.

  • Medical History: Firstly, it's vital to thoroughly inform your dentist about your medical history, including any medications you are currently taking and known allergies. This information will help your dentist plan the procedure and anesthesia administration with your health and safety in mind.

  • Oral Hygiene: Maintaining proper oral hygiene in the days leading up to the procedure is another critical aspect to consider. Patients should thoroughly brush and floss their teeth, as well as follow any preoperative instructions put forth by their dental professionals.

Taking these measures will help minimize the risk of complications during and after the surgery.

Can You Eat Before Wisdom Teeth Removal With Local Anesthesia?

When it comes to wisdom teeth removal performed under local anesthesia, patients are generally allowed to eat a light meal before the procedure. This is because local anesthesia only numbs the specific area being operated on, and does not affect your digestive system or require you to fast.

However, it's crucial to consult your dentist about any specific preoperative instructions related to eating and drinking, especially if you’re wondering what to eat after a tooth extraction, as certain factors may vary depending on the individual and the specifics of the procedure.

Can I Drink Water Before Wisdom Teeth Removal With Local Anesthesia?

Yes, patients can drink water before wisdom teeth removal under local anesthesia. In fact, it is typically encouraged to drink clear fluids like water before the procedure.

Staying hydrated can be beneficial for your overall health, making it easier for your body to recover postoperatively. As with eating, it's essential to follow any specific instructions provided by your dentist about drinking water or other beverages before the surgery.

Final Thoughts

Wisdom tooth extraction is a common dental procedure experienced by millions of individuals worldwide. Ensuring that appropriate anesthesia is used during the process is crucial for the patient's comfort, safety, and overall well-being.

This comprehensive guide for 2023 has provided an in-depth exploration of the various types of anesthesia used in wisdom tooth extraction, including local, sedation, and general anesthesia, and their respective benefits and after-effects.

As each patient's needs and circumstances are unique, consulting with dental professionals is essential to determine the most suitable anesthesia option for a smooth, pain-free, and successful wisdom tooth extraction experience.