Updated on March 6, 2024
7 min read

Tooth Extraction: Purpose, Procedure, and Recovery

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Tooth extractions are a routine procedure performed by dentists and oral surgeons to remove the entire tooth structure from the gum socket.

There are two different types of extractions:

  1. Simple extractions ⁠— don’t require incisions and only need a local anesthetic
  2. Surgical extractions ⁠— often performed by oral surgeons or a general dentist; may require general anesthesia

Tooth Extraction Procedure

Your dentist determines if you need a simple or surgical tooth extraction. Depending on the case, some dentists will still refer a simple tooth extraction to an oral surgeon.

3d render of lower jaw with tooth extracted by dental forceps

Here are the general steps of tooth extraction:

  1. Your dentist will administer the anesthetic to the immediate area around the tooth
  2. Your dentist will release the tooth from the fibers connecting it to the bone
  3. Once loosened, the tooth is elevated from the socket
  4. After removing the tooth, your dentist will apply pressure to the tooth socket to minimize bleeding
  5. Once the procedure is completed, your dentist will give you post-operative instructions

The specific steps of tooth extraction will depend on each case. Sometimes, the procedure can take longer.

Factors affecting the procedure include:

  • Location and position of the tooth
  • Length and curvature of the roots
  • Presence of previous root canal treatments (makes roots brittle and more likely to break)
  • The thickness of the bone around the affected tooth
  • Patient’s overall physical health

When is a Tooth Extraction Necessary?

There are several reasons why teeth need to be extracted, which include:

Some of these issues may also indicate an emergency tooth extraction. During an emergency extraction, a tooth has to be removed within a 24- to 48-hour period.

For example, if you have a bacterial infection in your mouth, it can cause a tooth abscess. If the case is severe enough, pus can form inside the tooth structure and lead to more severe complications. An emergency tooth extraction would be necessary.


A simple extraction without insurance costs between $75 and $250. For a surgical extraction, however, prices can go up from $180 to $550 per tooth or more.

The price depends on several factors, including:

  • The condition of your teeth
  • Type of tooth extraction
  • Type of anesthesia
  • Your dental clinic
  • Your dental clinic’s location

If your dentist deems the procedure medically necessary, your insurance can cover all or part of the cost. It will depend on your provider.

Potential Risks and Complications of a Tooth Extraction

Tooth extractions are a standard dental procedure and usually occur without significant complications. However, like all medical procedures, there are risks. 

A dry socket is one of the most common risks of tooth extractions. It is a painful condition when the blood clot formed over the extraction dissolves or dislodges and exposes the bone.

If you develop a dry socket, you’ll need to return to the dentist for a protective dressing that allows the formation of a new clot.

Other risks associated with tooth extraction include:

  • Jaw fracture
  • Damage to teeth surrounding the extracted tooth
  • The sinus hole when the tooth is extracted in the upper back of the mouth
  • Ongoing numbness that, in very rare cases, can be permanent

Preparing for a Tooth Extraction

Knowing how to prepare for a tooth extraction eases anxiety about the procedure and ensures the removal goes as smoothly as possible.

To prepare for tooth extraction, you’ll want to:

  • Refrain from using blood thinners
  • Eat a normal meal on your typical schedule to ensure normal blood sugar levels
  • Ask your dentist to explain the extraction process step-by-step before he or she begins
  • Don’t hesitate to ask questions or raise concerns about the procedure with your dentist

If you opt for laughing gas (nitrous oxide), you should not eat anything for at least 2 hours before the procedure. Most dentists recommend waiting about five hours before eating soft foods.

Aftercare and Recovery from a Tooth Extraction

Recovering from an extracted tooth can take two weeks or more, depending on the case. Remember to follow the instructions your dentist gives you after the procedure.

3d render of dry socket

During the first and second days after an extraction, you might experience mild bleeding. This will stop once a blood clot forms.

As your mouth heals, you may experience some temporary side effects. They include:

  • Swelling around the mouth area
  • Minor pain or discomfort
  • Bleeding
  • Tenderness
  • Soreness

Recovery Timeline of a Tooth Extraction

Here is the general recovery timeline after an extraction:

24 to 48 Hours After the Procedure

Blood clots will form during the first 24 to 48 hours after the extraction, which will help the tissue begin healing. During this time, you may experience some pain and discomfort.

Your dentist will typically prescribe a pain reliever to help you through this period. You will also be able to return to non-strenuous activities.

The swelling around your mouth will peak during this period. Dental professionals recommend using an ice pack to relieve the discomfort.

Here are other things you should do during this period:

  • Get as much rest as possible
  • Avoid rinsing your mouth
  • Do not drink from straws
  • Do not suck on anything
  • Keep your head elevated as much as possible
  • Avoid sneezing or blowing your nose
  • Do not smoke
  • Change the gauze as often as necessary

3 Days After the Procedure

By the third day after your extraction, your tooth socket should be mostly healed. The bleeding will stop, and the swelling will be minimal. You may still feel some tenderness, but there should be minimal pain or discomfort.

Here are some things you should do during this time:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to prevent bacteria
  • Brush and floss as usual, but avoid the extraction site
  • Eat soft foods

1 Week After the Procedure

Once a week has passed from your tooth extraction, a clot should be fully in place. If your dentist sutured the extraction site, this is the time for a dental visit to remove the stitches. If they are dissolving stitches, they will go away on their own.

If you are still experiencing pain or bleeding, visit your dentist immediately. They will determine the cause of the issue.

2 Weeks After the Procedure

In two weeks, the extraction site should be mostly healed. The gum tissue will still be tender, so it’s vital not to brush this area too much.

You should still avoid chewing tough foods or anything that can rupture the gum tissue. Be mindful of keeping food debris from the socket, and visit your dentist for a checkup.

Foods to Eat After a Tooth Extraction

During the first two days after your tooth extraction, you should only eat foods that don’t require chewing. These include:

  • Plain yogurt
  • Jello
  • Lukewarm soup
  • Pudding
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soggy cereal
  • Oatmeal

For two to five days after your extraction, you can start to eat foods that require minimal chewing. These include:

  • Yogurt with fruit
  • Pasta
  • Soft vegetables
  • Ground beef
  • Minced food
  • Eggs
  • Bread

Once a week has passed, you can slowly start to eat a normal diet. Be careful chewing around the area of the extraction site, as the gum tissue can still be tender. You can also ask your dentist when the best time to eat hard foods is.

Some foods you should avoid for at least two weeks after a tooth extraction include:

  • Drinks that require a straw
  • Hard vegetables and fruits
  • Spicy foods
  • Chips
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Tough meat

How to Manage Pain from a Tooth Extraction

Here are some things you can do to manage your pain after your tooth extraction:

  • Gently rinse your mouth with salt water
  • Only eat soft foods to prevent irritating your mouth
  • Be consistent with taking painkillers or antibiotics that your dentist prescribes
  • Apply ice packs or cold compresses to the side of your cheek where the extraction site is

If you’re experiencing severe pain, contact your dentist immediately. Try to be mindful of the effectiveness of your medications and let your doctor know if they work for you.


Tooth extraction is a standard dental procedure where the entire tooth structure is removed from its gum socket. It is often performed by general dentists or oral surgeons.

It takes approximately two weeks to heal from an extraction. A dry socket is a common risk that can develop after tooth extraction.

Last updated on March 6, 2024
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on March 6, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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