When is a tooth extraction necessary? Procedure, recovery, and aftercare

Nichole McKenna

Written by Nichole McKenna DDS, Eric Moryoussef DDS, Matthew Stewart DDS, Jack Lawrence DMD, Benjamin Joy DDS

Tooth extraction may be a necessity for anyone at some point. Pulling a tooth, however, is always the last resort. Dentists will do everything they can to save it. No restoration is as durable as natural dentition. But sometimes there is no alternative.

This guide will help you figure out whether you might need tooth extraction, what the process is like, and what to do afterwards.

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Reasons for tooth extraction

Limited dental exam

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Before removing a tooth, dentists always try fillings, endodontic treatment, or partial restoration such as dental crowns. Extraction is performed when all this fails. The most common reasons for removing teeth include:

Teeth that have suffered trauma or are infected may need emergency removal. Overcrowded teeth are often pulled before orthodontic work is done. When it comes to impaction, when left alone, these teeth might lead to infections and severe pain.

Types of tooth extraction

Extractions are an integral part of dentistry. At times, teeth may be relatively simple to remove, but oral surgery may be inevitable. Have a look at how extractions are categorized.

Simple tooth extraction

Single tooth extraction

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Simple extraction mainly concerns dentition that has broken through the gums. This means:

  • whole or intact teeth that are visible in the mouth,
  • loose teeth,
  • dead teeth, and
  • baby teeth.

Baby teeth are relatively simple to remove. Pediatric dentists do this when the growth of permanent teeth in children doesn’t synchronize with the falling out of primary dentition. The body might try to absorb it back. That can be dangerous and those baby teeth have to be pulled.

If the patient has serious dental anxiety, sedation, most commonly laughing gas, can be administered before the tooth extraction procedure. Otherwise, a local anesthetic will be used to numb your mouth.

During a follow-up visit, the dentist will check healing and remove sutures if necessary.

Surgical tooth extraction

Surgical tooth extraction

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Some teeth have to be extracted surgically. This type of tooth removal involves cutting and lifting mucosal tissue (a part of your gum). The tooth might have to be cut up into smaller parts. This way the opening doesn’t have to be as big and healing is faster.

A surgical procedure is often necessary when teeth are impacted or broken. The first mainly concerns wisdom teeth. If not removed, this could lead to possible infection or crowding (not enough space in the mouth for all your teeth).

A local anesthetic is sometimes enough. For partially-bony and fully-bony impactions, you might have to be sedated. Some family dentists refuse to undertake such cases. You then have to go to an oral surgeon.

A coronectomy is performed when there is a risk of hurting the inferior dental nerve. Such damage, if not permanent, can result in weeks of numbness in the tongue, lower lip, chin, teeth, and gums. Talking and eating is then very difficult.

After a surgical extraction, the site is most commonly stitched up with self-dissolving materials. You will get a gauze pad to bite down on to control the bleeding. It’s a good idea to schedule a follow-up appointment to make sure the extraction site is healing properly.

Tooth extraction recovery

Provided that you follow your dentist’s instructions, there is a high chance that your extraction will heal just fine. You may experience some worrying symptoms, but they are a part of the process.

Here is what you can expect: some bleeding, minor swelling, white tissue forming in the affected area, and pain around the tooth socket.

Day by day tooth extraction healing may be slightly different for each patient. Generally, bleeding should stop around 48 hours after the procedure. If you continue to bleed after this period, schedule a follow-up appointment.

Swelling and soreness is common for about 3 days. Take medication according to your dental professional’s instructions. If the pain continues for longer, schedule another visit.

Tooth extraction aftercare step-by-step

Medication on tongue

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Proper tooth extraction aftercare can prevent unnecessary discomfort and complications. There are certain things you should do immediately, and some you should continue for a twenty-four hour period after your procedure.

24 hours after the procedure

Here are some dos and don'ts after tooth extraction immediately after you leave the office:

  • Take painkillers according to your dentist’s instructions. A common drug is ibuprofen, which also has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Try to keep the gauze pad in place for about 3-4 hours.
  • If you experience discomfort or pain, apply an ice bag to the extraction area. Keep it in place for no more than 10 minutes at a time to avoid tissue damage.
  • Bite on moistened tea bags to help constrict blood vessels.
  • When sleeping, prop your head up on pillows. Laying flat can make the healing slower.

Days after the procedure

Make sure to follow the tips below for the next day and after.

  • Remember to keep up with your oral hygiene but avoid the affected area when brushing.
  • Try to avoid physical exertion.
  • Don’t rinse, spit, or use a straw.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or smoke.
  • Rinse your mouth with a salt solution or an antiseptic mouthwash.

Eating or, rather, refraining from eating certain foods can help make sure your recovery is speedy and efficient. Soft foods are recommended for at least a week.

Moreover, do not use straws, to avoid “sucking” which could lead to dry socket. The rule of thumb is that soft is good while hard and sticky is bad. Smoking after tooth extraction is always a terrible idea.

Tooth extraction near me

Costs of tooth removal often vary greatly between offices. Some dentists refuse to take on more complicated cases. It’s important to figure out who can get the job done well but also affordably.

We can help you there. The Authority Dental database has thousands of experts with great reviews. The best dentist near me service includes booking your appointment, saving you time, money, and effort.

We’ll consider your insurance plan and chosen payment method. The service is free and available 24/7. Check out this page for more information.


How long does tooth extraction take?

The whole thing usually takes about an hour. You may have to take an oral sedative or be hooked up to an IV 60 minutes before the procedure starts. Higher forms of sedation also mean you might feel drowsy the next day.

How long does pain last after tooth extraction?

Generally, tooth extraction pain should stop around 48 hours after the procedure. You may feel some tenderness for up to 3 days after you leave the office.

What are tooth extraction complications?

Complications take place when you don’t follow dentists’ instructions closely. Sometimes they may happen if you’re simply unlucky. Either way, you should be aware of the signs that point to a problem, namely nerve damage, infection, and dry socket.

If tooth extraction pain pain lasts for longer than 3 days or if you lose the sense of touch or taste, you could be at risk of nerve damage. Contact your dentist as soon as possible. Preventative antibiotics are controversial, but they’re a popular solution to possible infections.

If a patient who recently had a tooth removed uses straws or brushes the surgical area aggressively, the blood clot can become dislodged. Professional treatment is not necessary, a new blood clot should form. Nonetheless, it is very uncomfortable.

What should a tooth extraction look like when healing?

The first thing you’ll notice is a red blood clot forming. After that, the soft tissue will begin the granulation process, making it appear creamy white.

How long does it take the hole to close after tooth extraction?

The blood clot should begin forming the same day. A full recovery may take a few weeks, but after about 2, you shouldn’t feel any difference and can begin eating as you normally did.

What to eat after tooth extraction?

There is no contraindication to eating immediately after tooth extractions, but you are unlikely to have an appetite. Stick to a liquid or soft diet for up to a week. Some great foods to eat after tooth extraction are canned fruit, baked vegetables, and smoothies.

After about 7-10 days you can start adding eggs and meats to your diet. When 2 weeks have gone by, even sticky and crunchy treats are acceptable.


  1. Dental Restoration - ScienceDirect
  2. Dental crowding - NCBI
  3. Tooth eruption: The permanent teeth - ADA
  4. ADA Guide to Extractions – Tooth and Remnants - ADA
  5. Coronectomy – oral surgery's answer to modern day conservative dentistry - Nature