Do you need to have oral surgery to remove a tooth or a few teeth? While the reasons for extracting teeth vary, from impaction to decay, what patients can do to get ready for the procedure remains pretty consistent. Your oral surgeon will provide you with specific instructions on ways to get ready before the surgery and what to do afterwards. As with any surgical procedure, following instructions will help you when it comes to recovery and when it comes to your overall comfort during and after the surgery.
Understanding Your Options
Not all types of oral surgery are the same. In some cases, the process of extracting a tooth simply involves pulling it out. In other cases, your dentist might need to cut into the gum and bone to remove a tooth that hasn’t fully erupted or to remove a tooth that is impacted, or unable to break through the gums because the mouth is too crowded.
Part of preparing for surgery involves understanding your options when it comes to anesthesia. The surgeon might recommend using a local anesthetic, which numbs the area being operated on while you remain alert and awake.
While some patients don’t mind being aware of what’s going on while the dentist works on their mouths, others might be a little unsettled by the idea of being able to see and hear what’s happening. More involved forms of anesthesia are available in those cases, from laughing gas or IV sedation to general anesthesia. Patients who decide to receive either IV sedation or laughing gas will still be somewhat conscious, but generally out of it — enough to be unaware or care very little of what’s happening in their mouths. This option can be ideal for patients who don’t want to go completely under but who also don’t want to see the dentist pull out their teeth.
General anesthesia is the deepest type of anesthetic available. With it, the patient is fully out, meaning he or she has no idea what is going on. He or she will also usually need assistance breathing when fully under. The surgical team will need to closely monitor the patient during the procedure to make sure there are no ill effects caused by the anesthesia.
Eating or Drinking Before Surgery
What you can eat or drink before the removal of your wisdom teeth or another type of oral surgery depends in large part on the type of anesthesia you’ll receive. Usually, people who are about to receive general anesthesia or IV sedation are advised not to eat or drink anything starting around midnight the evening before their surgery. If the surgery isn’t scheduled until later in the day, it might be fine to have a light meal in the early morning. Your surgeon will give you a definite cut-off time for eating and drinking before the procedure.
The rules for eating and drinking before oral surgery are a little more lax if you are just going to receive a local anesthetic or nitrous oxide (laughing gas). In that case, it might be fine for you to have a light snack or meal several hours before surgery. Talk to your surgeon to find out what he or she recommends.
Oral surgery isn’t something you want to go through alone. For one thing, if you’re receiving anesthesia or sedation, you’ll most likely need to find someone to take you home from the dentist’s office after the surgery. You’ve probably seen those funny videos of people after their visits to the dentist. That will be you, meaning you won’t be fit to drive or take care of yourself for sometime after your surgery.
Ask a friend or relative to be your chauffeur to and from the dentist. Ideally, this person will stick with you for a few hours after you get home to make sure you are doing all right and to help you if you need water or anything else.
Some discomfort is likely after your surgery and your dentist will most likely prescribe some type of pain reliever to help you cope afterwards. While you can pick up the medication after your surgery, stopping at the pharmacy might be the last thing you want to do. Instead, see if your dentist will provide you with the prescriptions in advance, then pick them up before your scheduled procedure.
Depending on what you are taking, you might have to adjust some medicines before your surgery, as some drugs can increase your risk for bleeding or can interfere with the recovery process. For example, hormonal birth control pills can increase your risk for dry socket somewhat. You might consider scheduling your surgery for a time when your dose of hormones is low, to reduce your risk.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas are pleased to be able to offer oral surgery and tooth extractions to their patients in the Miami area. To learn more about what you can do to get ready for your surgery, call their practice today at (305) 447-1447.