Natural teeth are needed for biting, chewing and maintaining mouth and jawline shape, which is why a dentist’s first priority is to help restore, save and repair your natural teeth. However, sometimes a tooth extraction is necessary and unavoidable when there is severe dental decay, trauma, or periodontal disease. Other reasons teeth may need to be pulled or removed include:

1. Severe tooth decay that cannot be treated or fixed
2. Periodontal disease or infection has destroyed most of the surrounding bone around the tooth
3. Inadequate space for all of the teeth in your mouth
4. Some teeth may be blocking other teeth from coming into the mouth
5. Baby teeth do not fall out and thus prevent eruption of the permanent teeth
6. People undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign ® may need some teeth removed to create room to straighten the other teeth
7. Wisdom teeth are usually recommended to be removed if they do not come into the mouth straight or there is not enough room for the wisdom teeth to come into the mouth

X-Rays or radiographs will be taken in the dental office to determine the diagnosis of the tooth and to determine the best dental treatment plan for you. Depending on the positioning and breakdown of the tooth, the extraction can be classified as “simple” or “surgical.”

A “Simple” tooth extraction usually does not involve cutting into the gums and the tooth can be removed somewhat atraumatically. This is usually the case for very loose teeth.

A “surgical” tooth extraction usually requires the opening of the gum tissue to have proper visualization of the tooth. A surgical dental handpiece may be needed to either cut the tooth into parts or remove some of the surrounding bone to better remove the tooth. The healing time can be a little longer with surgical extractions as there is more involved with this procedure. Patients will often opt for some kind of sedation dentistry like nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or moderate conscious sedation so they feel more comfortable.

When a tooth is “pulled,” that is the same as meaning the tooth is being extracted or removed. Below are some things to keep in mind after the extraction.

– Keeping the area clean after the tooth extraction is very important to prevent inflection. You can gently brush the area with a soft toothbrush to keep the area clean.
– Your periodontist or dentist may place some gauze in your mouth over the extraction site. Bleeding is typical for the first 24-48 hours, however if there is heavy bleeding, you can place gauze over the socket with pressure to help control the bleeding and to allow a clot to form to start the healing process.
– You should avoid smoking, rinsing vigorously, using straws, or doing any motions that could dislodge the blood clot that has formed.
– Your periodontist will discuss what pain medications are appropriate for you. You can also place an ice pack on the outside of your face where the tooth was extracted to decrease some of the inflammation.
– If you develop a fever or notice pus in the extraction site, you should call your dentist immediately as these can be signs of infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to recover from a dental extraction?

Typically, your surgeon will ask that you at least take about 48-72 hours to relax afterward so the treatment area is allowed to clot. After that, a patient should be able to return to normal physical activity. The soft tissue will usually fully heal in about 3-4 weeks.

Can a piece of tooth be left behind after a tooth extraction?

Typically, tooth pieces are not left behind but bone remodels as part of the tooth extraction healing process. Bone fragments are little slivers of bone that can get left behind in the socket after a surgical tooth extraction. Ideally, the bone fragment works its way out as the area heals. But sometimes the bone gets caught in the gum tissue and the oral surgeon will need to remove it for you.

Can you eat the same day you have a tooth removed?

About an hour after surgery, you may remove the gauze sponges that have been placed in your mouth and have something to eat. Be sure to eat foods that are soft for the first 24 hours after surgery. Avoid hot foods and drinks for several hours after surgery. Also do not drink from a straw for at least 72 hours.

4) How do I know if my tooth extraction site is healing properly?

It's essential to understand what proper healing looks like, so schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately if you notice any of the following signs:
1. Fever.
2. Severe swelling that does not go down after a few days.
3. Severe pain.
4. Numbness.
5. A bad taste in your mouth that doesn't go away after a salt water rinse.