Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Painful?

Reviewed on 3/25/2021

There is a fair amount of pain after wisdom tooth removal. The procedure is done under local anesthesia. The pain peaks six hours after the procedure and may last for a few days.
There is a fair amount of pain after wisdom tooth removal. The procedure is done under local anesthesia. The pain peaks six hours after the procedure and may last for a few days.

There is a fair amount of pain after wisdom tooth removal. The procedure is done under local anesthesia. The pain peaks six hours after the procedure and may last for a few days. It is often accompanied by swollen cheeks and a swollen jaw, which can be managed with pain medication. Sometimes, the dental surgeon may prescribe strong pain medication, especially if the procedure was very intensive. Also

  • Any pain associated with the wisdom teeth removal procedure will usually occur during the recovery period.
  • Most patients report some soreness around the surgical sites for a few days after the tooth removal surgery. The surgeon will likely provide a prescription for pain medication to control any discomfort. Maintaining a soft food diet is recommended and will be comfortable for the patient in the first few days after surgery.
  • Patients will also receive extensive preoperative and postoperative instructions along with tips on how to control pain and recover as comfortably as possible.

Which type of anesthesia is usually given for wisdom tooth extraction?

The kind of anesthesia the dentist will administer to the patient before the procedure depends on the case. The following are some of the different kinds of anesthesia.

Local anesthesia

  • Patients who are given local anesthesia stay awake during the whole procedure.
  • They do not experience any pain. The only sensation they have is a certain amount of pressure applied to the operation site.

Sedation anesthesia

  • Patients who are given sedation anesthesia are not completely conscious during the procedure and do not experience any pain at all.
  • Another characteristic of sedation anesthesia is its impact on short-term memory. Patients usually have no recollection of the procedure. It may be used in kids.
  • Patients who are sedated intravenously require a longer recovery period. This is because anesthesia is made up of elements that have a long half-life. Because of this, the excretion of the elements from the body takes time.
  • This form of anesthesia is the most expensive on the list and is also not covered by dental insurance. A very serious problem involving intravenous (IV) sedation is the precision and skill involved in administering it. Therefore, only professionals and skilled individuals can undergo this manipulation.

General anesthesia

  • For general anesthesia, patients are completely unconscious and have no awareness of their surroundings. They do not experience any pain during the procedure.
  • General anesthesia also has an impact on short-term memory.
  • In certain serious cases, a local anesthetic will be used in combination with general anesthesia.

Nitrous and local anesthesia

  • Nitrous and local anesthesia is the most potent anesthesia.
  • This combination has a strong impact on the central nervous system and  patients usually feel euphoric.
  • It is a cheap form of anesthesia and wears off very quickly when compared to other forms of anesthesia that may take up to a few days.
  • There are some disadvantages of using this method. The patient is awake during the process. This is not a good experience because the patient can hear noises made by tools used for the extraction. Also, the patient will feel a substantial amount of pressure on the site of the extraction.
  • Another disadvantage of using nitrous is the induction of nausea in some individuals, which is quite unpleasant. However, it is a temporary side effect.

How do you know when a wisdom tooth should be removed?

Apart from the fact that the third molars are now visible, wisdom teeth that do not erupt properly can become impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth may not always cause any issues immediately. However, over time, they may get infected, damage neighboring teeth or cause other oral problems.

Signs of impacted wisdom teeth include

  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Jaw pain and discomfort
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty eating or opening the mouth
  • Constant headaches

How are wisdom teeth removed?

It usually varies with each person. The dentist will advise whether the wisdom teeth are fine or are likely to cause future dental problems. If it is the latter, a surgical extraction may be recommended. The following is the procedure to remove wisdom teeth.

  • Depending on how the wisdom teeth are situated, the dentist may use local or general anesthesia or sedation. 
  • If the wisdom tooth is still deep in the gum line, an incision will then be made in the gum to expose the tooth and bone.
  • If extraction of the tooth is difficult, it may be divided into several pieces before being removed.
  • The best case will be when a wisdom tooth is fully erupted and showing. It becomes far easier to remove.
  • Once the extraction is complete, the site is cleaned, and any remaining debris is removed. Then, it is stitched up (if required). 
  • The dentist will apply gauze over the site to help stop the bleeding and assist in the formation of a blood clot.


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