General anesthesia for a wisdom tooth operation


In complicated cases or if all four wisdom teeth have to be removed at once, general anesthesia is recommended for wisdom tooth surgery. General anesthesia for dental surgery can either take place in the hospital or in the dental practice.
The patient is unconscious and does not feel any pain.

How does general anesthesia work for wisdom tooth surgery?

General anesthesia for a wisdom tooth operation requires special equipment and the presence of an anesthetist. After a detailed anamnesis, information and reflection period, general anesthesia begins on the day of the operation with the induction of anesthesia. For this, the patient must appear sober.
There are three phases of general anesthesia:

  • Falling asleep,
  • Preservation of anesthesia and
  • Wake up phase.

To monitor the patient, an ECG is connected, an intravenous access is made and a finger clip is attached to oxygenate the patient. Before the patient loses consciousness, he breathes in pure oxygen through a breathing mask while the drugs that induce general anesthesia are administered through the port.

Find out more: Anesthetics - Which drugs are used?

Then the patient is ventilated through a tube through the nose during the second phase of general anesthesia. The patient sleeps and pain stimuli as well as reflexes and voluntary muscle activity are switched off. The dentist can now remove the wisdom teeth.

As soon as the dental procedure is over, the anesthetist can initiate the wake-up phase. After waking up, the patient has to stay there for observation.

also read: Anesthesia at the dentist

Ventilation with general anesthesia for wisdom tooth surgery

Usually the patient is intubated under general anesthesia. A ventilation hose, which is led over the mouth to the windpipe, provides the oxygen supply.

However, this form of ventilation is not possible for dental interventions under general anesthesia. Therefore, for wisdom tooth surgery, ventilation is provided through the nose through a tube. The oxygen saturation is constantly monitored using a finger clip (pulse oximeter) on the finger.

Risks and side effects of general anesthesia for wisdom tooth surgery

General anesthesia is a procedure that has been used successfully every day in hospitals around the world for many years. A distinction is made between the risks that can occur with general anesthesia and the unpleasant but mostly harmless side effects afterwards.
The risks include e.g.

  • allergic reactions to the drugs used,
  • Cardiovascular problem or respiratory or cardiac arrest or
  • the rare but serious malignant hyperthermia.

A detailed explanation and anamnesis discussion before the operation reduce the probability of these possible risks. Should there be complications during general anesthesia at the dentist, the anesthetist present can intervene quickly.

Side effects that are likely to occur include, among others

  • nausea

  • Vomit

  • a headache

  • Disorientation

  • Tremble

You might also be interested in: Risks of anesthesia

Duration of general anesthesia for wisdom tooth surgery

Depending on how long the wisdom tooth operation lasts, the longer the general anesthetic will take. The induction of anesthesia is usually quite quick, while the waking up phase can take over 30 minutes.

The observation period after waking up from general anesthesia is determined by the anesthetist and depends on the general condition of the patient.

Is general anesthesia at the dentist also possible with a cold?

Since general anesthesia uses the nose to remove the wisdom teeth, a cold or other respiratory illnesses pose a serious problem. You can narrow the airways so that intubation for ventilation through the nose is not possible.

This means that you should wait with the wisdom tooth operation under general anesthesia until the cold has subsided and the nasal mucosa has swollen and the airways are clear again.

Read also below:

  • General anesthesia for a cold
  • Therapy for a cold

Does the health insurance company pay the general anesthesia for the wisdom tooth operation?

Under certain conditions, the costs of general anesthesia during surgery on the wisdom tooth are covered by the statutory health insurance. This applies e.g. For

  • Children under 12 years of age who do not show sufficient cooperation with the dentist

  • Patients with mental or physical disabilities who interfere with wisdom tooth surgery

  • Patients diagnosed with anxiety disorder

  • Patients with a known allergy or other medical conditions that speak against the local anesthetic

  • severe cases where the procedure cannot be performed under local anesthesia

The best thing to do is to ask your own health insurance company directly whether the costs will be covered.

What are the costs of general anesthesia for wisdom tooth surgery?

If the health insurance company does not cover the costs of general anesthesia for the wisdom tooth operation, the dentist or anesthetist will settle the bill. The patient is informed about the costs and receives an invoice after the operation.

The cost varies depending on the difficulty and duration of the procedure. Roughly estimated, you have to reckon with 250-300 € per hour.

Advantages and disadvantages of general anesthesia

Advantages of general anesthesia in wisdom tooth surgery

  • the patient sleeps (this is beneficial for children and anxious patients)

  • Complicated wisdom tooth operations are possible in one piece

  • patients who are unable to cooperate can also be treated

Disadvantages of general anesthesia for wisdom tooth surgery

  • more expensive than local anesthesia

  • the presence of an anesthetist and appropriate equipment is necessary

  • is usually not covered by the health insurance

  • there are risks and side effects associated with general anesthesia

  • You have to be sober before the operation

  • Medical supervision is required after the operation

Advantages and disadvantages of local anesthesia

Benefits of local anesthesia for wisdom tooth surgery

  • uncomplicated

  • many years of experience of dentists

  • quick procedure

  • no observation of the patient necessary after the operation

  • The patient is allowed to eat and drink before the operation

  • free of charge for those with statutory health insurance

Disadvantages of local anesthesia for wisdom tooth surgery

  • the patient is conscious and notices everything

  • the practitioner depends on the cooperation of the patient

  • If the operation takes longer or is complicated, you have to re-inject

  • no reliable elimination of pain in the inflamed tissue with local anesthesia

Read also below: Local anesthesia at the dentist

Recommendations from the redation

You might also be interested in the following topics:

  • Wisdom tooth surgery
  • Duration of a wisdom tooth operation
  • Local anesthesia at the dentist
  • General anesthesia at the dentist