Dental Care for Kids: Finding the Right Dentist

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Why Pulling Teeth Doesn't Do Justice To Dental Extractions

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The image of the dentist as tooth puller is a cultural norm that every person picks up from the time they watched cartoons as kids. Dental extractions, however, are typically much gentler procedures than the tooth pulling stereotype indicates. Here's what you need to know about how a tooth extraction actually works.

Tooth Nudging

The vast majority of dental extractions involve the doctor using a small, medical-grade probe to nudge teeth back and forth. If you recall having a loose tooth as a child, the goal is very similar in terms of trying to rock the tooth until it comes free from the socket. The big difference is that your dentist has a lot more training, can use local anesthetic, and has better tools.

There Are Exceptions

There is a tiny minority of the public that have teeth that need to be physically pulled. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including deep roots, dense underlying bone and ligament structures, and the proximity of other teeth. In some cases, the dentist may even have to crack a tooth in order to extract it.

Even in cases where a tooth comes out easily, the dentist may still need to clean the socket out. Small pieces of tooth, bone, or other materials may be left behind. These pieces will usually surface on their own, coming up through the gums as the body pushes them out, but it can be more comfortable for patients to remove them before closing up a socket.


The socket left behind by a tooth extraction can run very deep, and it needs time to heal. As a result, the vast majority of dental extractions also call for stitches to be put in. By closing the socket up, the patient is more likely to avoid drying, which can set the healing process back further. In some cases, a dry socket may lead to another procedure.

Some dentists offer slow-dissolving stitches that should go away over the course of several days to a couple weeks. Whether this type is used or traditional ones are employed, a follow-up visit will be scheduled to make sure they're gone. It may be necessary for the doctor to remove the stitches, but the effort takes around a minute.

A patient must keep the area clean until it fully heals. A soft food and liquid diet is recommended for the first few days.

To learn more about extractions, speak to a dentist like those at A Q Denture Services.