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What Actually Makes You Loopy After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

The wisdom teeth removal surgery is a common procedure that millions of young American go through as they transit into adulthood. Beyond the predictable discomfort and dietary adjustments, an intriguing phenomenon often emerges in the aftermath of this common oral surgery: the sensation of feeling “loopy.”

This curious state of being, characterized by a foggy mind, drowsiness, and a touch of disorientation, has left both patients as well as their friends and family in a state of curiosity and amusement.

The cause of the “loopiness” is due to the administration of anaesthesia prior to the surgery to numb the area and control the pain. The effects of the anaesthesia persists after the surgery, leaving patients to feel the residual effects such as grogginess, drowsiness, and disorientation.

In this article, we will delve into into the science behind this post-wisdom teeth removal “loopiness,” and explore how you can mitigate and even avoid it after the surgery.

What Causes the “Loopiness”?

As explained previously, the phenomenon is caused by the use of an anesthesia before the surgery. There are two forms of anesthesia used for wisdom teeth removal surgery: local and general anesthesia.

Local anesthesia involves the injection of a numbing agent, usually lidocaine, directly into the area around the tooth being removed. It blocks nerve signals in that specific area and prevents you from feeling pain during the procedure. A local anesthesia is used in less complicated surgeries where there is only one or two wisdom teeth being removed, and it is not impacted.

In cases, especially if all four wisdom teeth are being removed at once or if the procedure is complex, general anesthesia might be used. This puts you into a deep sleep and renders you unconscious during the procedure. It’s typically administered through an IV line. General anesthesia takes time to wear off, leaving patients in a dazed state as their body gradually processes and eliminates the anesthetic agents.

Anesthesia is different from laughing gas. The latter, which is also known as nitrous oxide, is a mild sedative inhaled through a mask placed over your nose. It creates a feeling of relaxation and euphoria during the procedure. Laughing gas is usually used when the patient is experiencing mild to moderate anxiety, as well as simpler wisdom teeth extractions.

For mild sedation such as laughing gas, the effects wear off quickly. In procedures where moderate sedation (also called IV sedation) or deep sedation, the experience is similar to general anesthesia as you will have little to no memory of the wisdom teeth removal surgery.

After the surgery, the effects of anesthesia is still present albeit it is wearing off. During this period, you will experience side effects such as confusion, memory lapses, and alterations in perception.

It is important to know that in spite of its supposed ill-effects, anesthesia will not cause any insufferable pain or permanent damage to the body.

What Are the Downsides of Being Loopy After the Surgery?

Feeling “loopy” after wisdom teeth removal surgery, while often a temporary and expected outcome, can have several downsides and potential drawbacks. Here are some potential downsides:

  1. Discomfort and Disorientation: Feeling “loopy” can bring about a sense of disorientation, confusion, and overall discomfort. You might find it challenging to focus, concentrate, or engage in coherent conversations. This can be particularly frustrating when trying to communicate with caregivers or medical professionals during your recovery. For friends and family however, it can be a golden opportunity to play a prank on you!
  2. Impaired Decision-Making: The altered mental state associated with feeling “loopy” can affect your decision-making abilities. You might not be in the best position to make important choices or judgments, which could extend to simple tasks like choosing appropriate pain management techniques or understanding post-operative care instructions.
  3. Potential Memory Gaps: The effects of sedation, anesthesia, and pain medications can sometimes lead to memory gaps or lapses. You might not remember parts of the procedure, conversations with medical staff, or details about your recovery instructions.
  4. Emotional Well-being: Feeling “loopy” can sometimes lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, or even emotional vulnerability. Not being fully present mentally can be emotionally unsettling for some individuals.
  5. Delayed Recovery and Disruption of Activities: Feeling “loopy” can slow down your recovery process. If you’re unable to think clearly or feel excessively drowsy, you might postpone activities that aid in healing, such as eating, drinking fluids, or moving around. Additionally, the need for extended rest can interfere with your daily routine and responsibilities.

In spite of the multiple downsides, it is imperative to know that the “loopiness” is temporary, and will subside as the effects of anesthesia and medications wear off.

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How Long Are You Loopy After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

The duration of the “loopy” feeling can vary widely from person to person. It depends on several factors, including the type of anesthesia used, your body’s response to medications, and the complexity of the surgery.

  • Anesthesia Type: If you underwent you may experience a more prolonged period of feeling “loopy” as the effects of the anesthesia gradually wear off. This could last for several hours after the surgery. In contrast, if local anesthesia was administered, you will feel minimal effects of the ‘loopiness’, and the numbing effect should wear off within an hour after the surgery. For laughing gas, the effects will wear off about 5 minutes after you stop inhaling the gas.
  • Pain Medication: If you were prescribed pain medication, especially those with sedative effects like opioids, they can contribute to the “loopy” feeling. These effects can last as long as you’re taking the medication. Once you start weaning off the pain medication, the sensation of being “loopy” should diminish immediately.
  • Post-Surgery Inflammation: The body’s natural response to surgery involves inflammation as it heals. This inflammation can also impact cognitive function and contribute to the feeling of being “loopy.” As the swelling subsides and healing progresses, this sensation should gradually fade.
  • Sleep Patterns: If your sleep patterns were disrupted due to general anesthesia or discomfort during the recovery process, it might take a day or two for your sleep-wake cycle to normalize. Lack of proper sleep can also contribute to feeling groggy and “loopy.”

In most cases, the sensation of being “loopy” should improve and disappear within the first 24 to 48 hours after the wisdom teeth removal surgery. However, if you find that the feeling persists beyond this timeframe or if you’re concerned about the intensity of your “loopiness”, it is recommended to reach out to your oral surgeon or dentist for guidance.

How To Avoid Being Loopy?

While the feeling of “loopiness” is unavoidable due to the effects of anesthesia, there are steps you can take to minimize the extent and duration of this weird sensation.

First of all, avoid using general anesthesia. Instead, discuss with your oral surgeron on the possibility of using local anesthesia or minimal sedation. If possible, opt for laughing gas as it wears off quickly once the gas supply is stopped. These options allow you to remain more alert during the wisdom teeth removal surgery.

Secondly, discuss pain management options with your healthcare provider. If you’re worried about the side effects of certain pain medications, such as opioids, inquire about alternative options that have less sedative impact.

Thirdly, after the surgery, plan to have a restful recovery period. Give yourself time to recuperate and allow any lingering effects of sedation or medications to dissipate. Avoid any strenuous activities for at least 24 hours after the surgery as it can exacerbate feelings of dizziness or grogginess. Eating soft, nourishing foods and staying hydrated can help you feel more alert and aid in the recovery process.

Last but not least, adhere to the post-operative care instructions provided by your healthcare provider. Proper rest, hydration, and adherence to pain management guidelines can support a smoother recovery.

Closing Thoughts

Unraveling the mystery behind feeling “loopy” after wisdom teeth removal, we’ve discovered that it’s a blend of anesthesia, medications, and the body’s natural healing process.

The choice of sedation, be it local or general anesthesia, or laughing gas, play crucial roles in determining the extent of “loopiness” you might experience. Discussing your preferences, concerns, and medical history with your healthcare provider enables them to tailor the procedure and identify the best sedation method to suit your needs.

As the effects of sedation and medications wear off, your mind will clear up. With a little patience and care, you’ll soon be feeling back to yourself, ready to embrace the benefits of your wisdom teeth removal.

Erinwood Brady

Brady Erinwood is an accomplished dentist operating in New York City. Renowned for his proficient use of state-of-the-art dental technologies, Dr. Erinwood offers both general and cosmetic dental services and is widely lauded for both his dental makeovers as well as his to enhancing the oral health of his community.