What is the relationship between anxiety and wisdom teeth

Recent research from the University of Seville and the Virgen del Rocío Hospital has shown that a patient’s anxiety before undergoing wisdom tooth extraction impairs recovery during the postoperative period, as the patient feels more pain and needs to take more painkillers, although it does not actually influence inflammation.

Likewise, it has been proven that when the dentist or maxillofacial surgeon informs the patient about the intervention orally (not only with the consent information sheet that must be signed), anxiety is reduced. Another aspect to bear in mind is that local anesthesia also tends to increase the patient’s nervousness, as he or she is conscious during the procedure.

The analysis was carried out on 88 patients who were to have their wisdom teeth, also called lower third molars, removed. Before the intervention and without having received any information about it, the patients answered a test on anxiety. After the extraction, they filled out a visual analog scale (a graph on which pain is evaluated on a scale from 0 to 10) every day for eight days, the eighth day being the day on which the suture is removed.

Anxiety, in general, is in some psychological theories, the response of the organism to a danger, whether it is foreseeable, probable, real or not. The important thing is that the subject lives it as a real possibility and experiences it prior to its occurrence. The reaction to such fear or danger is very broad, increasing the heart rate, sweating, adrenaline secretion, energy consumption, etc., and all this without anything having happened.

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The pain threshold also decreases and we become more sensitive to any stimulus. All of this means that a person facing a dental extraction, especially if it is of the wisdom tooth, logically experiences it as a situation that generates anxiety. But it is necessary to work so that this remains as controlled as possible. Otherwise the experience would be more traumatic and, in many cases, more painful.

Another even more interesting aspect is that recovery is worse in those patients who have had high anxiety during the operation. One possible explanation is that the molecules secreted during that moment of tension are of such potency that they jeopardize the patient’s recovery during the following 7-10 days.