November 30, 2022

A few years ago, I had an abscessed tooth extracted, and I wrote about my experience then. Recently, I had to have another tooth extracted, and I’m writing about it once more, since it was a completely different experience this time around. My goal in writing this is to share my experience to inform others and also to possibly influence others to protect their teeth and visit their dentist regularly so this doesn’t happen to them.

Last time, I was awake during the procedure with just a local anesthetic, but due to recent bouts with anxiety and panic attacks, I decided to be put under with general anesthesia. When I was 18, I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed with no adverse reaction to anesthesia, so I was confident I wouldn’t this time, either.

To prepare for the procedure, I wasn’t allowed any foods or liquids after midnight the night before. Thankfully I was scheduled for 8am the following morning, so fasting wasn’t very difficult, although I became very thirsty the next morning.

I was very nervous, but the surgeon, anesthetist, nurses, and other staff were incredibly kind and helpful to me. They reassured me of all my concerns. I was provided with after-surgery care instructions upon arrival at the office so that I’d have literature to read over and follow after the surgery.

My husband was required to remain in the waiting room the entire time of the procedure, and I wasn’t allowed to operate any machinery or a vehicle for at least 36 hours while the anesthetic wore off. He held my belongings and jacket while I was in surgery since I was only allowed a short-sleeved shirt (to monitor blood pressure).

I walked back to the dental surgeon’s exam room, met the anesthetist and sat in the chair. I had to sign a few forms, including one confirming that I wasn’t pregnant, and they began to prep me for the surgery. I was surprised at how quickly it all happened. I thought I’d be sitting in the chair for some time before they began, but as soon as I sat down, the surgeon started putting on his gloves. They attached a blood pressure cuff on my right arm, a heartbeat monitor on my right index finger, and inserted an IV into my left hand. The anesthetist also attached something on each of my forearms, though I couldn’t see what they were. At this time, they had reclined the chair so I was lying back, and had placed something over my nose providing oxygen to help me breathe.

They told me to take deep breaths, and I could hear the beeps on the heartbeat monitor slowing. The anesthetist told me my left arm might feel cold for a minute, as the anesthetics entered my bloodstream. Then I remember waking up after the surgery.

I felt no queasiness, though that can sometimes be a side effect from the anesthesia. I remember trying to sit up, but they told me to lie back down for a bit. My husband sat on a bed across from me. Before I knew it, I was sitting up and putting on my jacket, ready to go home. I walked out of the office with no problems or dizziness.

My recovery time was very quick, though some can take 2-3 days to fully recover. I had to hold gauze over the area while a blood clot formed. The gauze remained in place for the first hour, then I replaced it every 30 minutes until it stopped bleeding, which was about 4 hours after the surgery. Then I was able to eat jello and soup broth.

I felt little to no pain even after the anesthesia wore off. I was prescribed a generic Vicodin for pain, though I didn’t use any of it (I didn’t after my first tooth extraction, either). I did take an ibuprofen because the area around the extraction site (the roof of my mouth and my gums) were a little sore due, I think, to the surgical equipment used to pull the tooth.

The main concerns after having a tooth extracted (with either type of anesthesia) are proper healing and dry sockets. To help heal, keep the area clean by using warm salt-water rinses 2-3 times per day for five days. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot on the site is lost. If this happens, it is usually on the 3rd to 5th day after surgery, and although it is painful, it is temporary and treatable.

Overall, my experience wasn’t an unpleasant one and my recovery was very quick. I do urge everyone to get regular dental checkups, and don’t put off seeing a dentist if you experience any tooth pain, even if it goes away. Pain usually means there is something wrong. With an abscessed tooth, the pain generally goes away and comes back much later, even though the infection is present the entire time. Getting a tooth pulled due to decay isn’t something anyone should have to go through. With regular checkups and dental care, you should be able to retain all of your teeth in good condition.