A tooth extraction involves removing a tooth from it socket in the jawbone. Even though permanent teeth were meant to last a lifetime, there are a number of reasons why a tooth extraction might be necessary. The most common reason for tooth extraction involves teeth that are badly damaged—either from trauma or decay—that cannot be repaired through other restorative dental procedures.

Tooth extraction procedures are usually a last-resort after your dentist has made every other effort to restore and repair the tooth. Before removing the tooth, your dentist or oral surgeon will numb the area—a general anesthetic may also be used if you are having more than one tooth pulled or the tooth is impacted. To remove the tooth, the dentist will grasp the tooth using forceps and gently rock the tooth back and forth to loosen it from the jawbone and ligaments that hold it in place. If the tooth is impacted, it may need to be surgically removed.

Following a tooth extraction procedure, a blood clot usually forms in the socket. In some cases, stitches may be used to close the gum in the extraction site. Recovery from a tooth extraction usually takes a few days—your dentist will provide post-operative care instructions and details about any necessary follow-up care.