Nobody wants to have a tooth pulled. The very idea of not only losing a tooth, but the process of having a tooth pulled scares most people—sometimes to the point where they would prefer to delay treatment and put themselves at risk for future pain and a serious infection.

While your dentist will do everything they can to save your tooth, there are some occasions where it simply isn’t possible. In these situations, your dentist will ensure that the extraction procedure is as comfortable as possible.

There’s actually nothing to fear, though. Tooth extractions are relatively simple, and the tooth or teeth can often be replaced once the procedure is complete. Don’t worry—you won’t be left with a giant gap in your smile!


In order to eliminate some of the fear and anxiety about having a tooth extracted, it’s helpful to understand what a tooth extraction is, the reasons for a tooth extraction, and what the procedure entails.

A tooth extraction is exactly what it sounds like—it’s the process of having a tooth removed (or extracted) following administration of a local anesthetic.

West Mobile Dental Care is conveniently located in Mobile, AL but proudly services Daphne, Prichard, Montrose, Fairhope, Tillman’s Corner and other neighboring communities.


As was stated above, dentists try not to extract teeth if at all possible. Still, there are situations in which a tooth extraction is the only option. These situations include:

  • Severe Gum Disease and Supporting Bone Loss
  • A Tooth Interfering with the Proper Growth or Stability of Another Tooth
  • Severe Tooth Fractures
  • Failed Root Canals
  • Severe Tooth Decay

A lot of those issues, if caught early, can be treated without removal of the tooth. If you allow the problem to persist too long, though, you may be in need of an extraction. This isn’t to say that there is always a way to fix the issue without extraction, however. There are certain situations (like fractures) where there really is nothing else that you could have done to predictably save the tooth.


The process of having a tooth removed can actually be pretty simple, and isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds. There are different types of extractions that may be needed, though, depending on the severity of the damage or location of the tooth.

The initial consultation that you have with your dentist will determine whether or not your tooth will need to be extracted in the first place, and it is important to advocate for yourself and make sure that there are no other options. If you find that this is the case, then the doctor will walk you through the procedure in detail, and what type of extraction will be needed.

Generally, there are two different types of extractions—simple and the kind involving oral surgery.

    • A simple extraction is probably what you think of when you think about having a tooth removed. This procedure will still involve the dentist numbing the tooth nerve and the jaw, gums, and tissue around the tooth to make sure that you don’t feel pain during the procedure.
    • There will be other situations in which you need an actual oral surgery, which is a little more complex. This is often for situations such as wisdom teeth or retained root tips that need to be removed but are under the gum-line and the tooth isn’t as easily accessible. This procedure involves an incision being made at the gum-line to better expose the problematic tooth, and then the removal of that tooth. For more intensive tooth extractions, your dentist may decide to use nitrous oxide or a sedative and possibly refer you to an oral surgeon.

The Risks/Complications of Tooth Extractions

While tooth removal is generally a simple process, there are sometimes complications. With any surgical procedure you will potentially experience post operative pain/inflammation or possibly an infection. Your dental provider will speak with you about post operative pain management and if there is a need for antibiotics following the procedure. There is also the chance of what is called a “dry socket.” This is inflammation of the tooth socket that originates from the site not healing properly.

Following removal of the tooth you will have a space in your mouth. If the tooth is not replaced, there is a possibility that the surrounding teeth may shift, altering your bite. You may also experience loss of bone in the area of the extraction, which is why replacements are important, and often necessary.

Who Can Have Their Teeth Extracted?

While adults are often the ideal candidate for tooth removal, there are situations in which children need a tooth removed. This isn’t extremely uncommon—especially when teeth are initially coming in. The removal of baby teeth may be necessary and often recommended by an orthodontist to ensure that the surrounding teeth stay in place, and that the permanent teeth can come in properly.

After Procedure Care

It’s extremely important to take care of the space where a tooth was extracted to ensure oral health, and to decrease chances of infection. Pressure from a gauze pack can be used to absorb the blood that comes from the empty socket, manage and control the bleeding, and help a clot to form. The blood clot is essential to the healing of the empty socket and measures should be taken to ensure it is not disturbed. Often a dentist will recommend that you do not smoke, suck through a straw or spit during the initial healing phase, as these activities may disrupt the formation of the clot. It’s also important to not wash out the mouth too aggressively for the first two to three days.

Your dentist will also walk you through the process of keeping your teeth, gums and mouth clean after the procedure, but it’s important to remember not to brush your teeth in the area of the extraction for the first 24 hours.

Replacement Options

Once the tooth is extracted, it’s important to fill the socket. If the tooth isn’t replaced, there is the possibility of migration, and even damage to the jawbone. Your dentist may suggest different options such as implants, bridges or even dentures. The important thing is to ensure the health of the rest of your teeth, as well as your gums and jawbone.

Go over the replacement options with your dentist before the procedure, so you know what the best option will be for you once the tooth is extracted. Tooth extractions are relatively common—particularly for wisdom teeth. Still, you should discuss what options are available with your dentist. With proper care and replacement, your smile will be back to normal in no time.