by Editorial Staff And Contributors
This is a procedure to remove a tooth.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
While dental techniques can save many teeth, a tooth may need to be removed if it:
Possible Complications TOP
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 TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your dentist will likely:
Depending on the procedure, your dentist will choose:
Description of the Procedure TOP
If the tooth is impacted (buried in the gum), the overlying gum tissue will be opened 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. A gauze pad will be packed into the socket. In some cases, a few stitches will be placed to close the gum edges.
Immediately After Procedure TOP
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? TOP
It often takes about 20 minutes, but may take longer for impacted teeth.
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
You will feel pain in your jaw. You may be given pain medication. A complication called dry socket may occur. A dry socket forms when a blood clot does not form in the tooth socket, leaving the bone in the jaw exposed to air and food. A dry socket takes 2-3 weeks to heal and is painful during the healing process.
Post-procedure Care TOP
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
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 TOP
After arriving home, contact your dentist if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Canadian Dental Association
Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Tooth extraction. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at:
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Accessed February 23, 2016.
Tooth decay (caries). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at:
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Updated May 2013. Accessed February 23, 2016.
Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 8/15/2012
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