Tooth Extraction: Cost, Procedure & Aftercare
Tooth extraction (also referred to as dental extraction) is a routine dental procedure. It refers to removing or pulling a tooth from the bone and gums. Sometimes, tooth extraction requires a surgical procedure.
Tooth Extraction Types
Tooth extraction can be simple or surgical. Dentists use simple extraction when a tooth is visible above the gum line. Then, they can pull out the tooth with dental forceps. With surgical extraction, dentists remove a tooth that hasn't emerged from the gum tissue. A typical example is an impacted wisdom tooth. This surgical procedure may involve removing gum tissue or bone to access the tooth.
Why Would You Need A Tooth Extraction?
Dentists generally recommend treatments to save your natural teeth1. However, this isn't always possible, and there are many reasons for tooth extraction. Your dentist may suggest pulling a tooth in the following situations:
- Severe tooth decay. When teeth have severe cavities, restoring them with fillings or crowns may not be possible. Instead, your dentist may recommend pulling the decayed tooth.
- Advanced gum disease. In its advanced stages, gum disease can break down the bones that anchor your teeth2. Over time, this can destroy the bone, resulting in loose teeth. These teeth may fall out or require extraction.
- Crowded teeth. Crowded teeth occur when there isn't enough room in your jaw for your teeth to grow straight. Instead, they grow crooked, overlapped, or twisted. Before an orthodontist can straighten your teeth, your dentist may need to extract some.
- Dental injuries. Dentists are often able to repair chipped or cracked teeth, but some dental injuries aren't treatable. If a severely broken tooth splits into distinct segments, or if the crack extends below the gum line, a dentist may extract it.
- Tooth abscess. A tooth abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the tip of an infected tooth's root. An untreated cavity often causes this type of infection. To drain the pus and get rid of the disease, your dentist may need to pull the tooth.
- Impacted teeth. Sometimes, teeth aren't able to emerge and remain partially or fully trapped beneath the gums. This may happen if there's not enough room for the tooth. The third set of molars, also known as wisdom teeth, is most likely to become impacted.
How to Prepare For Tooth Extraction
Before the procedure, talk to your dentist about your medical history. This is important because some health conditions or medications may affect dental treatments. For example, suppose you have a condition that weakens your immune system. In that case, your dentist may ask you to take antibiotics before the extraction.
Your dentist may give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your extraction. This may include arranging a ride home after the procedure or avoiding food and drink in the hours before your appointment6. Talk to your dentist to learn about the necessary preparations for your type of extraction.
How Much Does A Tooth Extraction Cost?
For many people, preparing for a tooth extraction includes researching how much the procedure costs. Your tooth removal cost will vary based on several factors, including where you live and the type of extraction you need.
General dentists charge around $160 to $215 for simple tooth extraction, according to a recent American Dental Association fee survey7. For surgical extractions that require making an incision in the gum tissue, the average cost is about $285 to $375. For extractions that require removal of bone tissue, you can expect to pay around $410 to $555. Oral surgeons tend to charge slightly higher fees for these procedures.
Tooth Extraction Procedure
Simple and surgical tooth extractions are relatively straightforward. Read on to learn what you can expect during your appointment.
During a simple tooth extraction, your dentist will:
- Provide anesthesia. Your dentist will inject a local anesthetic to numb the area around your tooth. If you're nervous about the procedure, your dentist may suggest sedation anesthesia. This medication helps you remain calm and comfortable during the process.
- Loosen the tooth. Using a unique tool called an elevator, your dentist will rock the tooth back and forth to loosen it. You won't feel pain due to the local anesthesia, but you may feel some pressure.
- Remove the tooth. Your dentist will pull the tooth with extraction forceps. These specialized dental tools look similar to pliers.
During a surgical tooth extraction, your dentist will:
- Provide anesthesia. Your dentist may use local or sedation anesthesia, as described above. For some complicated extractions, dentists may offer general anesthesia.
- Expose the tooth. Next, your dentist will make an incision in your gum tissue to expose the tooth. They may need to remove some surrounding bone tissue to access the tooth.
- Remove the tooth. Your dentist will use forceps to remove the tooth carefully. For easier removal, they may divide the tooth into sections and remove it one piece at a time.
- Close the gum tissue. Your dentist may place one or more stitches to close the gum tissue. This helps the wound heal.
For more details about what happens during a tooth extraction procedure, talk to your dentist.
How Long Does A Tooth Extraction Take?
The length of the procedure will vary depending on the type of extraction you need. A surgical tooth extraction, such as removing impacted wisdom teeth, generally takes forty-five (45) minutes and two (2) hours. A simple extraction may take less time. Your dentist or oral surgeon can provide more information about the length of your procedure.
Tooth Extraction Recovery Time
When a tooth is pulled, it leaves a temporary hole in the gum tissue. This space is called the socket, and it will close up over time. Tooth extraction healing time varies from one person to another, but generally, the socket will heal in about one (1) to two (2) weeks.
How Long Does Pain Last After Tooth Extraction?
Thanks to the local anesthesia dentists use for tooth extractions. You may feel no pain immediately after your procedure. However, this numbing medicine generally wears off after a few hours. At this point, you may start to feel pain.
Follow your dentist's instructions on pain relief. You may be able to manage any discomfort with over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen. Your dentist may prescribe more vital pain medication, if necessary. If you still feel pain several hours after the extraction, call your dentist.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare Guide
To help your tooth extraction recovery go smoothly, follow your dentist's aftercare instructions. Your aftercare guide may include the following tips:
- Take it easy. For the first couple of days after the procedure, rest and give your body time to heal. Vigorous exercise can raise your blood pressure and may lead to increased bleeding from the socket.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking can cause slower healing after tooth extraction and may put you at risk of certain complications. To encourage healing, avoid smoking for at least 72 hours after the extraction.
- Stick to soft foods. Your dentist may recommend following a soft-food diet during tooth extraction recovery. Good choices include scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, mashed bananas, frozen yogurt, and cream soups11. When eating, chew on the other side of your mouth.
- Brush and floss gently. The day after your extraction, you can gently brush and floss your teeth. Be careful to avoid the area around your healing socket for the first three days.
- Rinse your socket as directed. Your dentist may recommend rinsing the tooth socket with saltwater. They may provide a particular syringe for this purpose. Rinsing the socket helps remove food debris that collects during meals.
What Are The Risks Of Having A Tooth Extraction?
Tooth extraction is a routine procedure, and complications are uncommon when a professional perform your procedure. However, there are some possible risks.
Of all tooth extraction risks, dry socket is the most common12. It generally affects just 2% to 5% of tooth extractions13. Extracted molars — especially wisdom teeth — get dry sockets more often. When your dentist pulls a tooth, a blood clot usually forms inside the socket. This clot protects the bone and nerve endings inside the socket as the wound heals. However, the clot falls out or doesn't form in rare cases, and your bone and nerves are exposed to the air. This may cause severe pain, and in some cases, slower healing.
Call your dentist if you have new or worsening pain in the first few days after your extraction. If you have a dry socket, it's possible to treat. For example, your dentist may fill the socket with a medicated paste to provide pain relief.
Other tooth extraction risks are less common than a dry socket. Some of these rare risks include:
- Nerve damage;
- Slow wound healing;
Carefully following the aftercare instructions your dentist provides can help reduce your risk of dry socket and other complications.
Find A Dentist For Tooth Extractions Near You
When performed by an experienced dentist, tooth extraction is generally a routine, uncomplicated procedure. At The Smile Generation, you can find a qualified, local dentist for tooth extractions.