What is a tooth extraction?
Sometimes, people need to have a tooth pulled out. This is called a tooth extraction. This tooth extraction is usually done by a dentist or an oral surgeon. There are various reasons why you might need to have a tooth pulled. Learn what to expect during and after this dental procedure.
When might you need a tooth extraction?
You might need to have a tooth pulled out if you have:
- severe gum disease
- a deep infection in a tooth
- a broken tooth
- orthodontic reasons
- problems with a wisdom tooth
Wisdom teeth, which are the last adult teeth to arrive, sometimes need to be removed. They can become stuck if they don’t have enough space to grow properly.
What happens during a tooth extraction?
If you need a tooth to be removed, your dentist will usually give you a local anaesthetic to numb your mouth so you don’t feel pain. Your dentist will then use a special tool to loosen the tooth in the gum. Once the tooth is loose, they will remove it with forceps.
If your tooth extraction is more complicated, you might need to be given a general anaesthetic, which will put you to sleep.
What happens after a tooth extraction?
After your tooth has been removed, your dentist will probably need to make sure the gum socket is clean. If you needed a cut in the gum during tooth removal, you might need a stitch to close the cut.
You might have some bleeding and if so, the dentist will usually ask you to bite down on a piece of gauze to stop the bleeding.
Once the anaesthetic wears off, you will probably have some pain. Your dentist might write you a prescription for pain relief medicine or recommend an over-the-counter medicine.
You’ll also probably be told to eat soft foods and chew on the unaffected side of your mouth for a while. Be careful not to bite your lip while it is numb. You should rest and avoid physical sports, smoking and drinking alcohol for the next 24 hours.
Usually, the wound will take 1 or 2 weeks to heal. However, contact your dentist if you have:
- ongoing severe pain — this may be caused by a complication called dry socket
- excessive bleeding
- a fever
Are there any alternatives to tooth extraction?
Ask your dentist to explain any alternatives to tooth extraction and what their benefits and risks are.
What are the costs of tooth extraction?
If you have health insurance, check whether it covers tooth extraction. If you are having a tooth out in your dentist’s dental surgery, it may be covered under general treatment (extras) cover. If you need surgery, it is usually considered ‘major dental’. If it is being done in hospital you will also need to have hospital cover.
Also, check with your state health department for public oral health services you can use. Children aged from 2 to 17 years might be eligible for free basic dental services — check with Services Australia.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: January 2021