Tooth Extraction Overview

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Tooth extraction, also known as dental extraction and tooth pulling, is a practice that has been around for centuries. Even cavemen knew when it was time to pull out a tooth. Luckily as time has progressed new and better ways to clean teeth have improved. Unfortunately, sometimes problems arise that require the need for a tooth extraction. There are different reasons for tooth extractions, as well as types of extractions and healing times.

Why The Need For Extractions?

The most common reason for a tooth extraction is decay and/or damage. Infections can cause tooth damage and premature decay. Gum disease is another leading cause for tooth extraction. The bones and supporting tissues around the affected tooth may not work properly, which is when tooth extraction is needed. Below is a list of other reasons for needing a tooth extraction.

  • Make room for braces
  • Wisdom teeth growing incorrectly (impacted)
  • Fractured tooth or teeth
  • Crowded mouth
  • Cosmetic reasons
  • Management of tumors
  • Blockage from other teeth growing in
  • Accident that caused tooth breakage or damage


One of the most common tests that your dentist will do before a tooth extraction is an x-ray. An x-ray has the ability to view the internal structure of each tooth. This allows the dentist to properly organzie the tooth extraction and deal with any problems with other teeth. Sometimes, there are other internal problems that need to be resolved before a tooth extraction. The same goes with an illness and infection. Dentists may postpone or prescribe antibiotics for certain illnesses before or after the tooth extraction surgery. It is important not to eat, drink or smoke on the day of the tooth extraction. It is important to make a list of any current medications you are on and your medical history.


There are two types of tooth extractions. The first is called simple extraction and it involves local anesthesia and limited amounts of instruments. The second is called surgical extractions. This type of extraction also involves anesthesia but requires deeper incisions into the gum and/or jaw. The first step in tooth extraction is tooth numbing.


Anesthesia is used to numb the tooth, bone and gum around the affected area. The next step involves the extraction, which can vary for each patient and problem. During the extraction process, a dentist will expand a tooth socket to allow a hole to emerge that is big enough to grasp and pull the tooth out. The most common instruments used are “elevators” and extraction forceps. During the procedure you should not feel any pain, but you will feel pressure. You will probably hear your tooth’s roots breaking but do not be alarmed because it is all part of the process. As the tooth extraction process comes to an end, a dentist will scrap any removing residue from the affected area to prevent infection. They will also wash out the socket and stitch up the open wound. Gauze is placed on the affected area and the dentist will ask you to bite down to apply pressure on the area to avoid excess bleeding.

Recovery Time

Recovering from a tooth extraction requires patience, time and special attention to the dentist’s instructions. It is important that you let you mouth and teeth after a tooth extraction. This includes no eating or drinking for at least a few hours after the extraction. Most dentists will be firm in noting that no sipping or drinking from a straw for a least 24-48 hours because it can cause air sockets in the affected area. Applying ice on the affected area can help with the swelling as well as the pain. Pain medication will often be prescribed for tooth extraction, so take the medication as required. Eating should be limited within hours of the extraction. Eating soft or liquid foods such as soup and applesauce is a good way to help heal the area. If you notice any signs of infection, vomiting, redness, excess swelling or chest pain, do not hesitate to call your dentist.

Preventing Dry Sockets

Dry sockets are one of the most common things that sends patients back to the dentist after a tooth extraction. Here are a few ways to prevent dry sockets from occurring.

  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid drinking from straws
  • Slowly brush your teeth
  • Practice good oral hygiene
  • Eat soft foods after extraction, then gradual introduce solids
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid sugary drinks
  • Keep your mouth clean