Pulling Your Own Tooth Out: When Not to Do It and How to Do It Safely

Pulling Your Own Tooth Out: When Not to Do It and How to Do It Safely
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Pulling Your Own Tooth Out: When Not to Do It and How to Do It SafelyClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Pulling Your Own Tooth
  2. When Is It OK?
  3. When Is It Not Ok?
  4. How to Pull Your Tooth Out at Home
  5. Risks & Complications
  6. Costs of Extractions
  7. How to Deal With Toothaches
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. References

Pulling your own teeth is something to do unless you have no other options. And you should consider it only if your tooth is loose and if the pain is not overwhelming.

The harm that you can cause yourself can occur not only when you pull the tooth (if it does not come out in one piece) but also in the aftercare.

Pulling Your Own Teeth

As a rule, dentists to not recommend pulling your own teeth. Odds are you are not an accredited dentist, orthodontist or even a dental hygienist, and a tooth extraction can be a painful process —especially without anesthesia.

But this doesn’t mean you cannot attempt it. The critical thing to consider is whether your tooth is ready to come out.

You do not want to remove a tooth that a dentist could have saved.

When Is It OK to Pull Your Own Tooth Out?

An adult tooth should last you a lifetime. You should not remove one simply because it is loose, as you would do in the case of a baby tooth. 

But there are situations where keeping an adult tooth does not help. They include:

  • When you have gum disease or a tooth decay 
  • In case of a tooth infection 
  • Impacted wisdom teeth
  • Unrepairable damage 
  • Hyperdontia 

Hyperdontia is a condition in which a person has too many teeth. A child should have no more than 20 baby teeth, and an adult should have 32 teeth after all the primary teeth have arrived.

If you have extra teeth, you can have excess ones removed. Most jawbones do not have enough space to hold extra teeth, which can lead to crowding, which can lead to several dental issues.

Even without excess teeth, your mouth could be too crowded to accommodate even the 32 teeth you should have. Many people discover this when wisdom teeth (third molars) start growing and erupting on the top and bottom jaws in the back of the mouth.

Some people do not have enough space for their four wisdom teeth. The teeth sometimes become trapped (impacted), leaving part of the crown covered by the gum.

To avoid complications and damage to the other teeth, you can remove the wisdom teeth.      

If your tooth has one of these problems, you can remove it if you do not think there is another alternative. But you need to be aware of the risks involved. If the tooth is not loose enough, it can cause a lot of discomfort. You also risk getting an infection in the open wound left behind from the extraction.

When Is It Not Ok to Pull Your Own Tooth Out?

Before pulling out your tooth, consider whether it is loose enough to pull it out safely. If it is not, you should probably not do it yourself.

You do not want to extract your own tooth if there is a chance it will be too painful. You do not want to put yourself in a situation in which you pass out from pain. That can lead to a dangerous fall, creating more injuries, potentially even damage to another tooth from a bad landing.

How to Pull Your Own Tooth Out at Home

Let’s say you’ve decided to pull out your tooth. How should you go about it? You can use any of these approaches to try and pull it out:

  • Wiggling. Try to move the tooth back and forth repeatedly. Ensure your hands are clean and avoid using too much force. You can also wiggle it with your tongue. Eventually, it will get loose and fall out. 
  • Twist and pull. If wiggling isn’t enough, twist the tooth and pull it out gently. Repeating these actions may help remove the tooth. You can use your hand, a gauze, or a wet cloth to hold the tooth. 
  • Brush and floss. Brushing vigorously but carefully along with flossing can weaken the tooth until it falls out.  
  • Eat crunchy food. Eat an apple, a carrot, or any crunchy food. If you feel pain, start with something softer. Be careful not to swallow the tooth. If it comes out, spit on a napkin. 

If you feel pain when removing the tooth, use some ice chip or over-the-counter anesthesia to numb your gum. If you bleed, use medical gauze to stop the bleeding.

Risks & Complications

Sometimes a tooth can break when you’re trying to pull it out. If the tooth is decayed, the crown may come out, leaving the root in the gum. If this happens, you should see your dentist immediately. A tooth infected by bacteria may spread the bacteria to the remaining wound. Consequently, your gum may swell, and the open wound may take longer to heal.

The dry socket is also a common complication after removing a tooth. It occurs when the open wound exposes the underlying bone. As a result, it causes intense pain. If you continue feeling pain after three days, you should seek help from your dentist.

Costs of Tooth Extractions

The cost of tooth extraction depends on many factors, such as:

  • Whether it’s an impacted tooth or not
  • The cost of living in your area
  • The type of anesthesia you use 

Simple extraction costs between $75 to $200, while impacted extraction cost around $800 and above. You may be charged extra for tooth examination. It is better to ask whether the quoted price includes the examination fee. To make the extraction cost more affordable, you can take dental insurance.

How to Deal with Toothaches

A toothache is one of the most common problems many people experience. But remember, removing a tooth isn’t the only cure for a toothache. First, a toothache can come from various causes. Some of which are treatable, while others disappear on their own. Whenever it is possible to heal a tooth, you shouldn’t pull it out. 

A toothache can be mild or severe. A mild toothache may disappear after some time, but a severe one may require you to visit a dentist. In the meantime, you can use the following methods to get rid of the pain.

  • Pain medication. You can use pain relief medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen. 
  • Cold compress. It involves using ice wrapped in a towel to compress your cheek where you feel pain. 
  • Rinsing with saltwater. Salty water acts as an antibacterial agent and helps reduce inflammation. It also helps to clear particles around the tooth. 
  • Hydrogen peroxide. You can also rinse with diluted hydrogen peroxide to disinfect the tooth area. This step will help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. 

An article about self-extraction titled, “Ethics and patient initiative,” published in the Journal of the American Dental Association drew this response from Arizona dentist Collet Masillamoni: “When patients extract their own teeth86007-6/pdf), the patient should be congratulated in a humorous manner for ‘practicing dentistry without a license’ and should be generally cautioned against self-treatment.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you pull a tooth out at home?
You can pull a tooth out at home by wiggling continuously with your clean hand. As you wiggle the tooth, you can twist and pull it gently to remove it. You can also brush and floss vigorously or eat crunchy food.
What happens if I pull a tooth myself?
You can pull a tooth yourself successfully, but the risk is high. You may experience complications such as infection to the open wound, which may swell and take longer to heal.

References

How to Pull a Tooth Out: Risks, Methods, & Alternatives. (November 2021). Dentaly.org. 

Is performing a DYI extraction possible? (April 2020). Animated-Teeth.com

Toothache. (March 2020). Cleveland Clinic.

Do-it-yourself dentistry. (May 2003). British Dental Journal.

Letters to the Editor86007-6/pdf). (June 1989). Journal of the American Dental Association.

What is a Root Canal? American Association of Endodontists.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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