Tooth extractions are often important for relieving pain and preventing overall health problems. And in a dental emergency, a tooth extraction might just save your life. Learn more about tooth extractions and how to know if you might need one.
When Is a Tooth Extraction Needed?
A tooth extraction may be needed if tooth decay or damage extends to the center of the tooth, containing nerves and blood vessels. When that happens, bacteria in the mouth can enter that area and cause an infection.
What Are the Different Types of Tooth Extractions that a Dentist Might Recommend?
A simple tooth extraction involves the removal of a tooth that is visible above the surface of the gum line. It can also be described as a “numb-and-pull” extraction. During a simple extraction, the dentist numbs the area around the tooth with local anesthetic and uses a tool to elevate and wiggle the tooth out.
A surgical extraction involves the removal of a tooth that is not visible or accessible to the dentist.
Why Would I Need a Surgical Tooth Extraction?
- A tooth has not come through the gum line (like a wisdom tooth that hasn’t erupted yet)
- A tooth has fractured below the gum line
Who Can Perform an Extraction?
Surgical extractions can be done by a general dentist, but the dentist may refer a patient to a specialist (oral surgeon) if the surgical extraction is particularly complicated. Given that surgical extractions are more complex than simple extractions, the procedure is often carried out under general anesthesia.
How Much Does a Tooth Extraction Cost?
A tooth extraction can cost anywhere from $250 to $800 without dental insurance, depending on the type of extraction you need, the dentist you see and where you live.
For some cost-saving tips on tooth extractions, check out our tooth extraction pricing guide. There are great ways to save on tooth extractions at the dentist so you don’t have to resort to pulling your own tooth.
Common Questions About Tooth Extractions
- Will a dentist pull a tooth without doing an exam and x-ray first? Typically not. For both the dentist’s reputation and your safety, the dentist typically needs to examine and x-ray the tooth to make sure you are getting the right treatment. The dentist needs to know what is going on underneath the tooth (which only an x-ray will show) before pulling it.
- What options does a patient have other than extracting the tooth? Before pulling the tooth, a dentist will often prescribe an antibiotic, which not only reduces initial infection but sometimes clears the infection entirely so that an extraction is no longer necessary. At other times, dentists will suggest a root canal as an alternative to an extraction to clean out any infection inside the tooth.
What Questions Should I Ask My Dentist About Getting a Tooth Extraction?
- Do you think the tooth will need to be removed, or is there a chance to save it?
- Are there any options to save it?
- If the tooth needs to be removed, can the procedure be done by you (the general dentist) or will I need to see a specialist?
Remember that oral surgeons are more expensive than general dentists. While extractions will often be close to 50% at general dentists using a dental savings plan, an oral surgeon will often be closer to 20-25% savings.
- If the tooth has to be removed, how long do you expect the recovery time to be?
- Are antibiotics necessary before or after getting the tooth removed?
- If I wanted to get that spot filled in after the tooth is removed, what are my options?
- Are there other questions that I should be asking that I might not know to ask?