Tooth extraction is done when
gum disease has loosened or severely damaged a tooth.
In most cases, a dentist can pull (extract) your tooth. But if the
procedure is complicated or risky, an
oral or maxillofacial surgeon may do the
Your dentist or oral surgeon may give you a
local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will
be removed. A stronger,
general anesthetic may be used, especially if several
of your teeth need to be removed at the same time. A general anesthetic
prevents pain in the whole body and will make you groggy or sleep through the
After removing the tooth, the dentist or surgeon may
put in stitches (sutures) and place gauze over the wound to help stop bleeding.
What To Expect After Surgery
Typically it takes only a few days to
recover from a tooth extraction. Be sure to follow the home care instructions
that your dentist or oral surgeon gives you. If you have questions about your
instructions, call the dentist or surgeon. The following are general
suggestions to help speed recovery:
- Take painkillers as prescribed.
- After 24 hours, you can rinse your mouth gently with warm salt
water several times a day to reduce swelling and relieve
- Change gauze pads before they become soaked with
- Relax after surgery. Strenuous physical activity may
- Use a damp tea bag over the empty tooth socket to help stop bleeding.
- Eat soft foods, such as gelatin, pudding, or
light soup. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as the area
- Do not lie flat. This may prolong bleeding. Prop up your
head with pillows.
- Continue to carefully brush your teeth and
- Apply an
ice or cold pack to the outside of your mouth to help relieve pain and
- Do not use sucking motions, such as when using a straw to
- Do not smoke.
dentist will remove your stitches a few days after the surgery.
Why It Is Done
An extraction is needed when gum
disease has damaged a tooth so badly that there is no other way to prevent the
infection from spreading and damaging nearby teeth and bones.
How Well It Works
Removing a tooth prevents gum
disease from spreading and damaging nearby teeth and bones.
Tooth extraction can introduce harmful bacteria
into the bloodstream. Gum tissue is also at risk of infection. You may need to
antibiotics before and after surgery if you have a
condition that puts you at high risk for a severe infection
or if infections are particularly dangerous for you. You may need to
take antibiotics if you:
- Have certain heart problems that make
it dangerous for you to get a heart infection called
impaired immune system.
- Had recent major surgeries or
have man-made body parts, such as an artificial hip or heart
After an extraction, a blood clot forms in the tooth
socket. The clot protects the bone while the healing process takes place. If
that blood clot is dislodged, you may have a dry socket, in which the bone is
exposed. Dry sockets may last for several days and may cause severe pain that
sometimes includes ear pain.
What To Think About
If you delay having a damaged
tooth removed, your gum disease can spread and cause you to lose more teeth.
Your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend that a
implant be installed after extraction.
To promote healing, stop all use of tobacco. Smoking
or using spit tobacco decreases your ability to fight infection of your gums
and delays healing. To learn more, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Steven K. Patterson, BS, DDS, MPH - Dentistry
Current as of
||May 29, 2013