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Everything You Need to Know About the Tooth Extraction Process
Tooth extraction is a standard dental procedure involving the removal of a tooth that’s badly damaged or one that’s getting in the way of necessary orthodontic work. Tooth extraction may sound scary, but we’re here to answer your most frequently asked questions, like why it’s important, how it’s done, and most importantly: Does it hurt?
In this article:
Why Is Tooth Extraction Important?
Your dentist may need to take out a tooth for many reasons. He or she may try to fix a damaged or broken tooth with a filling or a crown. However, there are some cases where treatment isn’t enough, and the tooth needs to be extracted because:
it’s fractured due to an accident and cannot be repaired, or
it has advanced periodontal disease and lacks bone support.
A tooth may need to be removed for other reasons, too, like if a person’s teeth are too crowded, and they’re blocking a new tooth coming in, or if a tooth becomes infected as a result of cancer drugs or an organ transplant.
Types of Tooth Extraction Processes
So, what happens during tooth extraction? Well, there are two types of tooth extraction:
General extraction. A dentist will remove teeth that are visible in the mouth. First, the dentist will loosen the tooth with a dental instrument called an elevator, and then use forceps to extract it.
Surgical extraction. Removing a tooth that is broken off at the gum or has not broken through the gum (like a wisdom tooth) is known as surgical extraction. It’s a more complex procedure, and it’s usually done by an oral surgeon (although sometimes a dentist can do less complex surgical extractions, like some wisdom tooth removals). Surgical extraction involves a small incision into the gum to remove the tooth. In some cases, the surgeon may need to remove some of the bone around the tooth or even cut the tooth to remove it.
Will Tooth Extraction Hurt?
No. You will feel a little pressure during a tooth extraction procedure, but no pain. Simple extractions use a local anesthetic to manage the pain, and the most you’ll feel is a momentary prick from the needle.
More invasive extractions may involve general anesthesia (where you’re put to sleep), or you may be given medication to help you relax. For complex surgical extractions, you may be given pain medication intravenously, and your surgeon or dentist may give you steroids in your IV line to help reduce any swelling and keep the pain away after the operation.
You may still experience some discomfort after any extraction, but your dentist or surgeon will likely recommend nonprescription painkillers like ibuprofen to manage any pain, especially in the first few days.
How Much Does Tooth Extraction Cost?
The average cost of a tooth extraction depends on the circumstances. It can even fluctuate based on where you live, as services are sometimes tailored to an area’s cost of living. Although it is one of the least expensive extraction procedures, a simple extraction can still end up being costly, especially if you don’t have insurance.
If you want to talk numbers, you can put a simple extraction in the ballpark of costing between $75 and $200 per tooth. The cost can go up depending on the type of anesthetic you need.
However, if you have impacted teeth, then this cost can even go up to the $800 to $4,000 range.
Receiving Temporary Dentures
Not all tooth extraction procedures mean you’ll end up wearing dentures, but if you’ve had teeth removed due to gum disease or decay, your dentist may give you temporary or immediate dentures. These dentures are designed to be worn in the first two to three months after you’ve had teeth removed. These dentures allow the gums to heal and take the pressure off any remaining teeth. Getting permanent dentures takes time, so these immediate dentures help the transition.
Recovery After Tooth Extraction
Just like any medical procedure, there is a period of healing and recovery after tooth extraction. You may be wondering just how long does pain last after a tooth extraction? You won’t feel sharp pain, but you may feel sore or uncomfortable, especially if you’re swollen after tooth removal. Most swelling and bleeding will go away within a day or two following the extraction, but the healing process may take at least two weeks. The good news is there are a few measures you can take to make your life easier:
Follow your dentist’s advice. Your dentist will give you specific advice for tooth extraction aftercare. Always consult your dentist for any advice on aftercare. The information below should only be followed if your dentist agrees.
Take anti-inflammatories. Your dentist may recommend taking some pain medication like ibuprofen, which can help decrease any pain and discomfort after tooth extraction. Consult your healthcare provider for complete instructions and recommendations.
Use ice packs to reduce swelling. Your dentist may advise using an ice pack on your face for 20 minutes at a time to help ease any swelling you may have. Use a warm compress if your jaw is stiff and sore once the swelling is gone.
Rinse your mouth out with salt water. If your dentist gives it the OK, you may find that a solution of warm water mixed with a half a teaspoon of salt can help keep your mouth clean after the surgery. Just swish it around your mouth for a few seconds, and spit it out.
What Can I Eat After Tooth Extraction?
If you’re wondering what to eat after a tooth extraction, go for soft and cool foods. In the first few days, this will be the most comfortable for you and the safest for your mouth. Gently ease other foods back into your routine, as you start to feel more comfortable. Talk to your dentist about what foods you can eat.
For example, you may want to start with cool, easy-to-chew foods like:
ice cream (without any crunchy or chewy candy pieces, and skip the cone)
After the first day, you may be able to progress to:
broth-based soups (without large chunks of meat, and consumed lukewarm, not hot).
And what about the foods to avoid? If you’ve recently had a tooth extraction, you may want to skip out on:
If you’re getting dentures, you can see the foods to eat as a new denture wearer here.
Dos and Don’ts After Tooth Extraction
Taking proper care of your mouth after a tooth extraction is the surest way to achieve full healing and recovery. Always follow your dentist’s advice, but to give you an idea of what you can expect, here are a few dos and don’ts for a smooth recovery.
Brush and floss your teeth. You should still brush your teeth, but avoid the extraction site.
Relax. Avoid any activity for the first few days; give yourself time to recover.
Prop your head when lying down. If you lie flat, you may prolong bleeding, so pile up the pillows under your head and neck to stay comfortable.
Rinse your mouth with salt water 24 hours after the procedure.
Call your dentist if a problem occurs.
Smoke. Cigarettes can inhibit healing.
Rinse or spit for 24 hours. This can dislodge the clot in the socket of your gums, so wait 24 hours until you rinse with salt water.
Drink from a straw. Avoid using a straw for the first 24 hours. It may cause suction in the mouth, which could loosen the clot and delay healing.
Dental extraction is no walk in the park, but the good news is it’s not as bad as you may think. There is no tooth extraction pain during the procedure, and recovery is usually smooth, with an allowance for eating ice cream. Just follow your dentist’s advice, take it easy, and everything will be fine.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Tooth Extraction Process
How long does pain last after tooth extraction, and how long does it take to recover?
You may find that most of the bleeding and swelling goes away in just a day or two. However, it could take you as long as two weeks to completely recover.
How painful is a tooth extraction afterwards?
It’s normal to experience some discomfort after you’ve had a tooth extracted. If you’re worried about the pain, ask your dentist for some painkillers. Even ibuprofen can help manage the pain in the first few days.
What are the side effects of removing a tooth?
There are few risks when it comes to removing a tooth, and your dentist will assess your personal situation before deciding what’s best for you. However, there are some rare risks like:
bleeding that lasts longer than 12 hours
fever and chills (in the case of an infection)
nausea or vomiting
chest pain and shortness of breath
swelling and redness at the extraction site.
If you notice any of the above after a tooth extraction, consult your dentist.
What are the steps of getting a tooth pulled?
For a simple extraction, the steps are:
Your dentist will loosen the tooth with a dental instrument called an elevator.
Your dentist will then use forceps to extract the tooth.
How much does it cost to extract a tooth without insurance?
Depending on the type of tooth extraction, the cost can range from $80 to $4,000.