Getting a tooth removed as an adult is something many of us will never have to worry about. However, for those that may need a molar extraction, be it because of extensive tooth decay, a tooth infection, or crowded teeth, it helps if you know the questions to ask your oral surgeon before the procedure.
Molar extraction is a fairly common procedure. You may need to get a molar removed if you fall under any of the following categories:
- There is a cavity that is too deep to fill.
- The molar has suffered extensive tooth decay.
- It is broken or chipped and is therefore not functioning properly.
- Your molar is impacted and causing other teeth to shift.
- Your molar is growing improperly and is causing you pain and discomfort.
You may also need a tooth removed before undergoing an organ transplant, and if you’re currently on chemotherapy treatments.
Molar extraction is usually a simple outpatient procedure that can be completed in a matter of minutes or a couple of hours at most. The procedure is slightly more straightforward when the tooth to be removed is visible.
Molars that are broken, under the surface of the gum, or impacted by wisdom teeth may require a more complex extraction procedure. Such patients can need oral implants to facilitate a full recovery.
Types of Molar Extraction Procedures
Depending on the position of the tooth as well as its current state, your dentist may elect to go with either a simple extraction or a surgical extraction.
For simple extractions, a local anesthetic is used to numb the area around the tooth to be removed. This includes gum tissue and surrounding structures. This way, you only feel slight pressure, but no pain, when the tooth is extracted. In a simple extraction, your dentist will use an elevator (an instrument that loosens the tooth by pulling it vertically) and a pair of forceps to pluck it out.
Surgical extractions are more complex. Oral surgery may become necessary if your dentist needs to remove bone material surrounding the tooth before it can be extracted. A local anesthetic may be issued along with intravenous anesthesia, which relaxes and calms you during the procedure. Sometimes, general anesthesia may be necessary, and then you will be unconscious during the whole procedure.
Preparing for a Molar Extraction
Here’s what you need to do to be ready for a molar extraction.
Talk to Your Oral Surgeon
There is a lot you have to reveal to your oral surgeon before going through with the procedure. Here’s what they should know:
- All the medications you’re currently on, including dietary supplements, vitamins, and OTC drugs.
- Any existing conditions you may have including liver disease, diabetes, hypertension, congenital heart defect, renal disease, thyroid disease, a weak immune system, bacterial endocarditis, worn-out heart valves, and artificial replacement joints.
- If you are scheduled to receive a bisphosphonate treatment intravenously in the nearby future. Bisphosphonate can cause bone death (osteonecrosis), so the extraction should happen before the drug treatment.
- If you get nauseous or vomit on the night before the molar extraction procedure. This is important, because the dentist may decide to change the anesthesia to suit your condition.
- If you have a cold, the procedure may need to be rescheduled.
If your dentist will be administering anesthesia intravenously, make sure to wear the right attire. Steer clear of long-sleeved clothing and instead opt for loose-fitting short-sleeved clothes.
Do Not Eat or Drink Before the Procedure
Do not eat or drink anything for at least six to eight hours before your appointment is due. Also, do not smoke or take any drugs before a molar extraction.
Bring A Designated Driver
Don’t go to the appointment alone if you’ll be getting general anesthesia. Bring a friend or family member to drive you home afterwards because the effects of general anesthesia can take a while to wear off.
8 Important Questions to Ask Before the Procedure
1. How long will the procedure take?
Depending on the number of teeth being extracted, the procedure may last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. It may be longer if the affected tooth is in a tight spot or is not clearly visible.
In any case, your oral surgeon should be able to give you a ballpark figure for the number of minutes the whole procedure will take.
2. What type of sedation will be used?
You may get local anesthesia, intravenous anesthesia, or general anesthesia depending on the complexity of the process. If it’s a surgical process, expect to receive general anesthesia. If not, a local anesthesia may be used on its own or combined with intravenous anesthesia.
3. Are there any precautions I should take before and after the procedure?
Depending on your age, gender, and physique, there may be precautions you will be required to take. Ask this question, especially if you’re pregnant or have a unique condition that may affect the procedure, the outcome, or your recovery.
4. Should I expect risks and complications if I have a heart disorder?
Rheumatic heart disease and endocarditis, as well as other heart disorders, may make the procedure riskier or require special precautions. Make sure to bring your condition to light before the procedure.
5. How will my impaired immunity affect my recovery process?
If you suffer from a disease that weakens your immune system (leukemia, HIV/AIDS, etc.), you may need to take extra steps and precautions to ensure that the procedure and your recovery go without a hitch.
6. Can I smoke or use other hard drugs during the healing stage?
If you are a smoker, let your dentist know. They will be able to provide clear guidelines on how and when you can smoke, and when you shouldn’t for the sake of making a full recovery. The same applies to other drugs.
7. What are the risk factors involved in diabetics and people suffering from liver diseases and bleeding disorders?
Diabetics and people with ongoing conditions may need to take extra precautions to ensure their recovery. Please talk to your dentist about your condition first as it will help them decide on the best course of action for your case.
8. How long will I take to recover?
Your dentist should be able to provide a timeline for when you will make a full recovery. This is especially important to ask if you’re scheduled for a surgical procedure and not a regular molar extraction.
Speeding Up Your Recovery
It will take a few days to fully recover from a molar extraction. You can take the following measures to expedite the healing process. Gently press an ice pack against your jaw to reduce the swelling.
- Do this on the first day for about 10 minutes at a time.
- Allow the extraction wound time to form a clot.
- Bite down on the gauze provided by the dentist for three to four hours, or until it is thoroughly soaked in blood.
- Take the medication you’ve been given as prescribed, even if it is OTC pain meds.
- Prop your head up with pillows when lying down.
- Rinse your mouth out after 24 hours with warm water mixed with half a teaspoon of salt.
- Eat soft foods only until the wound heals completely.
In case you experience prolonged pain, chills, fevers, and any sort of discomfort following a molar extraction, call your dentist immediately. It might be as a result of an infection or a complication. Remember to stay away from smoking, and to get enough rest until the area begins to heal.
Choose the Right Oral Surgeon
Dr. Christopher T. Johnson at Lake County Oral Surgery is a board-certified anesthesiologist and oral and maxillofacial surgeon with a focus in facial reconstruction and facial cosmetic surgery. The Clermont office opened in 2006 and the Leesburg office in 2012 in order to best serve the surrounding Lake County areas. Dr. Johnson has given over a dozen lectures and has published work in medical journals and has a hospital appointment with Orlando Regional Medical Center. He cares immensely about his work and his patients and encourages questions and communication before, during and after your appointments. As a standard procedure, he gives his personal cell number to patients for any questions or concerns that may arise post-op.
Feel free to contact us today for any questions or to schedule your molar extraction today!