Are tooth extractions painful?

Tooth extractions can hurt. But with the help of instruments, techniques, and sedation options, you can get your tooth pulled with minimal pain. Some discomfort is common, but this is temporary and should subside within a few days or a week.

Why are tooth extractions necessary?

Anyone may experience tooth removal at one point. Here are possible reasons for tooth extractions:

  • Tooth decay. If decay is beyond repair, your dentist may recommend having the affected tooth removed.
  • Damaged tooth. Fractured or broken teeth that can no longer be fixed may also get pulled.
  • Severe gum disease. When bacteria spread in the gums and infect both the gum tissue and bone, your tooth may loosen and warrant an extraction.
  • Crowding. Overcrowding occurs when there is not enough room in the mouth or the jaw is too small to accommodate all teeth. To fix the issue, your dentist may recommend extractions to open up space and help the rest of the teeth move to their proper position.
  • Before organ transplants. Physicians may recommend removing teeth that may become sources of oral infection before a patient undergoes an organ transplant procedure
  • Routine wisdom teeth removal. Sometimes wisdom teeth emerge without any complications but for many they get impacted and affect other teeth. 

Minimizing pain during tooth extraction procedures

Depending on your pain tolerance level or how complex your extraction procedure is, your dentist may recommend using anesthesia or sedation for discomfort or pain relief.

  1. Sedation

You and your dentist may look into sedation options to help you relax while getting your tooth pulled. These are the common types of sedation:

  • Nitrous oxide. Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is delivered through a mask and inhaled by the patient. It works immediately but its effects also subside right after the mask is removed. Since nitrous oxide is mild, it can also be administered to children that are unable to relax or sit still during procedures.
  • Oral sedation. For oral sedation, the patient takes a sedative before the procedure. Your dentist prescribes the medication and its proper dosage. You'll be monitored throughout the procedure. You may feel drowsy but you'll still be awake. Should you doze off, you'll be awake with a gentle shake. 
  • IV sedation. Intravenous or IV sedation is administered directly to the veins for a quick effect. Your dentist may recommend this type of sedation if you're undergoing a complex tooth removal procedure. 
  1. Local anesthesia

To administer anesthesia, your dentist applies a numbing agent on the gum area near the tooth extraction site. They may administer one or multiple injections as needed. 

The anesthesia doesn't remove sensation altogether. You may still feel movements during the procedure but they'll no longer be painful. You'll also stay alert throughout. 

Handling pain after tooth extraction

People recover from dental procedures at different paces. You may feel discomfort in the area a little longer or it may also go away within 3 days. If the discomfort or pain persists, get in touch with your dental team.

For a smooth and quick recovery, follow your dentist's instructions. Allow the blood clot to form in the area to avoid a dry socket. Refrain from engaging in strenuous physical activities. And stick to a soft food diet or food that requires minimal chewing.

Tooth extractions don't have to be painful. Your dental team works with you to help ensure a pleasant experience before, during, and after your procedure