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Everything you need to know about dental extractions

In this day and age, there is a large emphasis on preserving teeth. However, wisdom teeth extractions are very common and other teeth still get damaged or broken down to a point where they may require removal. Function and appearance are crucial factors to consider when deciding whether to save or extract a tooth. This is a decision you will need to discuss with your dentist and something we at Riverstone Family Dental can help you with. Feel free to give us a call on 8678 3538 to book in a consultation.

Why are teeth extracted?

Here are the most common reasons you may need to remove a tooth:

  • The tooth is badly damaged or broken down due to extensive decay or trauma such as a vertical root crack.
  • Periodontal disease which is the breakdown of gum and bone support around a tooth. This is linked to a buildup of tartar which causes an aggressive gum infection. The end result is the tooth’s roots become loose.
  • Prevention of complications such as before starting radiotherapy, bone medications or strong blood thinners which may make it difficult to remove teeth later.
  • Aesthetic reasons such as part of orthodontic treatment.
  • Teeth with no function such as one which sits opposite a gap and may start to bite on the opposing gum. A tooth without an opposing tooth to grind against during chewing may be better removed.


How do you decide whether to extract a tooth?

It is best to discuss this with your dentist. You will need an assessment of the tooth, your bite and how it will change the appearance or function of your mouth. Use this information to weigh up the pros and cons of saving as opposed to extracting the tooth. Where possible, remember it is best to try and retain your own natural teeth. This is because they look and function better than any artificial replacement we have available. These options include dentures, bridges or implants.

Root canal treatment may be recommended as an alternative to try and save the tooth – if you need help deciding between the two then read our blog: How to decide between root canal or extraction.

How does a dentist extract a tooth?

After a thorough examination, tests, x-rays and reaching a diagnosis, your dentist will confirm that this is something you want to do. They will then numb up the tooth. This is known as local anaesthesia. It is injected into the gum and around the tooth. Your dentist will do a check to ensure you are nice and numb. Then they will start to loosen the tooth after which they will place forceps around the tooth and use specific movements to remove it. They will then get you to bite on gauze and ensure a stable blood clot has formed before running through after care instructions. You will leave the appointment still numb and it is recommended you rest for the remainder of the day.

What makes a tooth difficult to extract?

Difficult extractions can be due to the following reasons:

  • It is heavily broken down or filled such as a tooth which has had root canal treatment, a metal post and a large crown.
  • The tooth may be in an unusual position and require bone removal in order to gain access to it.
  • It may be close to an important anatomical structure such as a sinus or nerve.
  • The roots may be large, curved, deep in the jaw bone or ankylosed.

The approach differs with challenging extractions. The tooth may need to be divided into segments so it can be removed safely. This is known as a surgical extraction.

What should I do after I have had a tooth extraction?

Here are some instructions we give to our patients after having their tooth removed:

  • Rest rather than doing housework or returning to work.
  • Keep biting on your gauze or keep your denture in and follow your dentist’s instructions regarding this.
  • Avoid rinsing and gargling, alcohol and smoking that day.
  • Taking any recommended medications such as painkillers or antibiotics.
  • Eat soft and cool foods on the opposite side of your mouth.
  • Use ice packs to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Start your rinsing protocol the following day.


Good luck if you decide to have a tooth extracted. Remember, your dentist will ensure it is as comfortable as possible. Do you need a caring and gentle dentist? If so give us a call at Riverstone Family Dental on 8678 3538.