Reasons for Procedure
While dental techniques can save many teeth, a tooth may need to be removed if it:
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a tooth extracted, your dentist will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your dentist before the procedure.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your dentist will likely:
Depending on the procedure, your dentist will choose:
Description of the Procedure
If the tooth is impacted (buried in the gum), the dentist will remove the overlying gum tissue to expose the tooth. Using forceps, the dentist will grasp the tooth and gently rock it back and forth. This action will loosen the tooth and break the ligaments that hold the tooth in place. The tooth will be pulled, and a blood clot will form in the empty socket. The dentist will pack a gauze pad into the socket. In some cases, the dentist will place a few stitches to close the gum edges.
Immediately After Procedure
You will need to bite firmly but gently on the gauze pad. This will reduce bleeding and permit a clot to form in the tooth socket. If rapid bleeding continues, replace with a fresh pad every 20-30 minutes. Otherwise, leave the pad in place for 3-4 hours.
How Long Will It Take?
It often takes about 20 minutes but may take longer for impacted teeth.
How Much Will It Hurt?
You will feel pain in your jaw. Your dentist may give you pain medicine.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
In the first 24 hours, expect some swelling and bleeding. The initial healing period usually takes about 1-2 weeks. New bone and gum tissue will grow into the gap.
Having a missing tooth can lead to shifting teeth, improper bite, or difficulty chewing. Your dentist may attempt to restore the area with an implant, fixed bridge, or denture.
Call Your Dentist
After arriving home, contact your dentist if any of the following occurs:
American Dental Association
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Canadian Dental Association
Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Tooth decay. American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org . Accessed September 17, 2009.
Tooth extractions. American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org . Accessed September 17, 2009.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD