For an adult, having a loose tooth can cause lots of discomforts. The teeth are already deeply rooted in the jaw. They are surrounded by delicate gums, blood vessels, and sensitive nerves. Pulling out such a tooth on your own can easily cause permanent damage or leave broken parts behind.
However, there are special cases where the need or circumstances warrant that you pull out the tooth at home. If, however, the tooth has dental complications, you should seek professional assistance.
Tooth extraction is a standard procedure that is undertaken by dentists globally. The time it takes for a dentist to pull out a tooth can be anywhere between 10 minutes to 2 hours. It depends on various factors such as the type of tooth and its condition, the dentist’s experience, and the patient.
There are three main reasons why tooth removal may be necessary:
- Tooth decay
- Severe damage to the tooth
- Gum disease
Tooth decay is a common reason for extraction of teeth. Patients who suffer from this condition have avoided going to the dentist for an examination and cleaning for a long time. It normally takes years for tooth decay to reach a point of extraction.
In the early stages of tooth decay, it usually affects the tooth enamel. After it wears off the coating, the dentin which is the inner part also begins to be infected. Consequently, there is a hole in the center of the tooth causing more damage.
The bacteria will eat through the tooth until it reaches the pulp resulting in a root canal infection. If the patient does not seek treatment, the infection will eventually extend further causing more damage to the tooth.
At some point, the tooth cannot be saved and a dentist may recommend tooth removal followed by treatment for restoration. This is why it is wise (and common in most Western countries) to visit a dental office twice a year for teeth cleaning and regular examinations.
Do not let tooth decay be the reason why you lose your teeth. Learn how to effectively strengthen your teeth by developing some healthy habits.
Severe Damage to the Tooth
Physical injuries to teeth due to an accident or otherwise may be a reason for extraction as well. The teeth may be severely broken, chipped, or cracked. This may damage the gums, and as a result, tooth removal may be necessary.
Restoration of the natural tooth with a filling or a crown is typically preferred. However, extraction is the last option in serious cases.
Some patients prefer to replace damaged teeth with dental implants which are placed into the jaw. The natural tooth has to be removed entirely for implants to be set.
Gum Disease (Periodontal)
Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease. It is a leading cause of loss of teeth in the U.S. Periodontal disease occurs when the gums separate from the teeth and create pockets that eventually get infected.
The bone and connecting tissues which keeps teeth accurately in place break down from toxins coming from bacteria. The patient has to seek medical attention immediately. If not, the tissue, bones, and gums become loose and damaged. The extraction will be required later.
READ MORE: Tooth extraction healing – all you need to know.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Wisdom teeth are at the back of the mouth. They are the third set of molars which grow between the ages of 17 to 25 years. They can be extracted because of various reasons. For example:
- They may grow at a wrong angle.
- You have a small mouth, and your jaw cannot accommodate more molars.
- You are suffering from gum disease or cavities, and your wisdom teeth are unreachable.
- The teeth may be impacted and trapped in your gum or jawbone.
The extraction procedure for wisdom teeth takes a maximum of one hour after the gum is numbed using general anesthesia.
Milk Teeth Extraction
When a baby’s teeth begin to decay, or they are damaged. Tooth extraction may be an option to eliminate the pain and save the gum. However, removing the tooth early before a permanent tooth erupts may cause other teeth to fill that gap.
If extraction is unnecessary, an orthodontist may recommend other ways to fill the gap until the permanent tooth erupts. Extracting milk teeth helps the dentist in guiding the development of permanent teeth.
As a result, surgeries and straightening procedures that might have been performed later are avoided. Removing milk teeth takes 15 minutes after the dentist has administered an anesthetic to numb the gum and bone.
Extractions from the upper jaw are fast because the maxillary bone is spongy. It is also easier to numb the maxillary bone. However, the lower-jaw teeth take much longer to extract because of the mandibles extremely dense bone.
Tooth extraction does not need to scare anyone. Dentists use strong general anesthesia to numb the gum to keep pain at a minimum level. Remember to visit your dentist every six months to avoid unnecessary tooth extraction.
Pulling Out Baby Tooth
For children, losing baby teeth is a normal part of growing up. While baby teeth will often fall out without any assistance, at times they may need a little bit of nudging. In that case, you need to be careful so that the child feels minimal pain and there no permanent damage.
Assessing the Tooth
Ask the child to open the mouth so that you can see and also touch the loose tooth. Gently wiggle the tooth using a finger to establish its level of looseness. In case the tooth still feels firmly attached and doesn’t seem loose enough for painless removal. Inform the child the tooth is not yet ready to be pulled out.
Encourage the child to continue using the tongue or finger to wiggle and make it looser.
Most dentists will recommend that as a parent you don’t try anything designed to speed up the process, leaving it to take its natural course.
Baby teeth and other teeth that could be loose due to issues of gum disease are normally easiest to pull out. Grasp the tooth firmly with a small piece of gauze. Firmly pull. If the tooth is not coming out easily, it may be wise to postpone the procedure or visit a dentist. Continuing to pull a tooth that is firmly embedded could easily aggravate matters and cause considerable pain.
Stop the Bleeding
Even if the tooth being pulled out was very loose, there is still a possibility of some bleeding. After the tooth is out, rinse the mouth and spit a couple of times. Use a sterile, fresh piece of gauze to compress the empty socket using your thumb and forefinger. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, is very heavy or there is too much pain, call a dentist.
To prevent infection after a tooth has been extracted, use some salt water to rinse your mouth right after you are done with the pulling out. It also helps to continue the rinsing for a couple of days. Avoid eating hard/crunchy foods lest you irritate the tender gums.
If you notice swelling, redness, pus or foul smell at the extraction site, or experience fever, call a dentist.
Most dental work should ideally be performed by a trained dentist who can manage any potential complications. In fact, most dentists strongly advise against pulling out teeth on your own or even the teeth of others. However, there are cases like those of baby teeth or teeth that have become so loose such that pulling them out is easy and also quite safe.
Author: Peter Mayhew
Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.