A Step-By-Step Explanation Of Tooth Extraction

There are several reasons your dentist may recommend having a tooth extracted, such as severe tooth decay, dental crowding or injury. For many people, the idea of having a tooth extracted may be foreign. It's quite normal to feel a little anxious before any dental procedure, but knowledge is often an antidote to anxiety. In general, tooth extractions are pretty simple and there's a low rate of complications, such as post-procedure bleeding and infection, when the aftercare instructions are followed closely. If you're a details person, you'll find this step-by-step explanation of tooth extraction useful.

Numbing Your Mouth

Your dentist will inject a local anaesthetic into the site of the tooth and surrounding soft tissue. You may feel a pinprick sensation as the needle goes in, but the anaesthetic works very quickly and it may be necessary for your dentist to inject anaesthetic into a couple of areas depending on the location of the tooth that will be extracted. Your dentist will check your mouth is numb before beginning the extraction.

Separating The Tooth From Its Socket

Each tooth is held in its socket by a ligament, so the tooth needs to be separated from the ligament and then released from the socket. Your dentist will use extraction forceps to grasp the tooth and rock it back and forth to loosen it. Once it's loosened, they will use a dental elevator, which is like a small screwdriver, to expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament. During this process, you will likely feel pressure and hear crackling noises as the tooth detaches. This may seem alarming, but it's perfectly normal and you won't feel any pain.

Cleaning The Socket

The extraction of a tooth leaves an open tooth socket and this will be washed out to prevent infection and any sharp bone fragments will be removed. It's not normally necessary to close a socket with stitches, as it will close on its own with time. However, the socket will be packed with gauze to stop it from bleeding and you'll have to bite down on the gauze for a couple of hours until a clot forms in the socket and the bleeding stops. The clot helps prevent bacteria from entering the socket, so you should try not to dislodge it with your tongue.


Your dentist will give you detailed instructions for caring for your mouth, which may include following a soft food diet for a couple of days, rinsing with warm salt water to reduce the risk of infection and using an icepack against your cheek to minimise swelling. In general, over-the-counter painkillers are strong enough to mask the post-extraction pain you may experience once your anaesthetic wears off, but if you experience severe pain, you should contact your dentist for advice.

If you need to have a tooth extracted, discuss any concerns you have with your dentist before your extraction appointment.