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Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. If you are facing a tooth extraction, it can seem a little scary. However, tooth extraction is a fairly standard and common dental procedure.

When Is Tooth Extraction Necessary?

Teeth that are broken or damaged by decay can be fixed with a filling, crown, or other dental treatment. Sometimes, though, the damage is too severe to repair, so your dentist will recommend extraction.

Here are some other reasons tooth extraction might be necessary:

  • Decay has reached deep into the tooth

  • Infection has destroyed a large portion of the tooth or the surrounding bone

  • There isn’t enough room for all the teeth in your mouth

  • Extra teeth block other teeth from coming in

  • Baby teeth don't fall out in time for the permanent teeth to come in

  • In orthodontic treatment, to create room for the teeth that will be moved into place

  • Wisdom teeth are often extracted either before or after they come in during the late teens or early 20s.


Before a tooth is removed, your dentist will thoroughly review your medical and dental history and take the appropriate X-rays. X-rays reveal the length, shape, and position of the tooth and surrounding bone. From this information, your dentist can estimate the degree of difficulty of the procedure and decide whether to refer you to an oral surgeon.

After the Extraction

Follow your dentist’s recommendations carefully before and after the procedure. The most important thing to keep up with after a tooth extraction is keeping the area clean and preventing infection. Immediately following the procedure, your dentist will ask you to bite down gently on a piece of dry, sterile gauze, which you should keep in place for up to 30 to 45 minutes to limit bleeding, while clotting takes place. For the next 24 hours, you shouldn't smoke, rinse your mouth vigorously, or clean the teeth next to the extraction site.

You can expect a certain amount of pain and discomfort following an extraction. In some cases, your dentist will recommend or prescribe a pain killer for you. It might help to apply an ice pack to your cheek for 15 minutes at a time. You should not drink through a straw, drink hot liquids, and also limit strenuous activity. Under normal circumstances, discomfort should lessen within three days to two weeks. However, if you experience prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding, or fever, call your dentist or oral surgeon immediately.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD

(626) 800-8022


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