Which anesthesia is best for wisdom teeth removal?

My daughter just turned 17 and has an appointment with a surgeon to discuss getting her wisdom teeth out. ¬†Everyone I talk to about this surgery has an opinion. She could be fully put under with anesthesia or just given local anesthesia. I don’t know which is better. What should we choose?


Connie, Las Vegas

Dear Connie,

Quite likely your doctor, a maxillofacial surgeon, will have a recommendation for you about which kind of anesthesia he recommends for wisdom teeth surgery. If you are given a choice, here are the differences between the two.

General anesthesia

General anesthesia will allow your daughter to be asleep during the procedure. She will not know what is happening or remember much after. The anesthesia is given through an IV and your daughter would be monitored throughout the procedure. This is a very comfortable choice for patients who may be anxious about the surgery. Your daughter will be sleepy for the more part of the day after the surgery. While this is usually a safe option, general anesthesia is not for every patient. Those who have reactions to anesthesia, who smoke or drink excessively, are obese, or have other medical conditions may have complications with general anesthesia.

Local anesthesia

If your daughter prefers to be awake for the procedure, local anesthesia is her other choice. This anesthesia is given by injection at the places of extraction in the mouth, similar to that done for cavities or root canals. Your daughter would be aware of her surroundings and what is happening. She may feel pressure from the extractions. It may not hurt, but it may be uncomfortable, depending on the position of her wisdom teeth. The numbness will last 3-4 hours afterward, depending on how many injections are necessary to make your daughter comfortable. She wouldn’t be as sleepy after, as with general anesthesia.

The best thing to do would be to take your questions to your initial appointment with the surgeon. This would allow you to hear which method of anesthesia he is most comfortable working with and the pros and cons.

This post is sponsored by Dr. Ryan Perry at Baton Rouge Family Dentist.

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