Generally, this is a last resort, as dentists want to keep as much of a natural tooth as possible. Tooth extractions are performed by general dentists, oral surgeons, and periodontists. Once your dentist has examined your tooth and found that there are no other options, they will suggest an extraction for your own health and safety. Your dentist will do everything they can to make sure the procedure is as safe and painless as possible.

There are two types of teeth extractions: simple and surgical. 

Simple extractions Simple extractions involve the area being numbed with a local anesthetic, then a dentist removing the tooth with two tools. One of these tools helps to elevate the loosened tooth, and the other is used to grasp it. The tooth is then moved back and forth gently until the ligament breaks and the tooth separates from the bone. This extraction is done when a tooth is still visible.

Surgical extractions Surgical extractions are more involved, as they are for teeth that are not clearly visible. One common form of surgical extraction is that done for wisdom teeth. These teeth may still be below the gumline. Sometimes teeth break below the gumline as well. When your tooth needs to be removed and it is below the gumline, your dentist will need to cut into the soft tissue to remove the tooth. Occasionally a tooth will be split into smaller fragments—making it easier to remove. Whatever the process, general anesthesia is used because the procedure is more difficult and lasts longer. Sometimes a general dentist will perform the surgical extraction, but more often an oral surgeon carries out the procedure.

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Why do I need a tooth extracted?

Once a patient has lost their “baby teeth” their permanent adult teeth will emerge. These teeth will hopefully last the rest of the patient’s life. Sometimes this isn’t the case, though, and a tooth needs to be removed. Below are a few of the reasons why a tooth may need to be extracted:

The tooth is extremely damaged by decay.

Before a more extreme measure is taken when a tooth has begun to decay and it has reached the pulp (or center of the tooth), a dentist will perform a root canal. If the decay has become too severe, though, a dentist may determine that an extraction is required.

Periodontal disease.

Gingivitis is when the bacteria from dental plaque causes a gum infection. This infection may eventually move from the gums to the ligaments of a patient, then to the alveolar bone and other structures. At this point, periodontal disease is likely occurring. This can, over time, lead to the loosening of a tooth or multiple teeth. At that point, an extraction may be recommended.

Tooth impacting.

Tooth impacting is when a tooth doesn’t fully erupt or is blocked from coming out. Often times for patients, this is the wisdom teeth. To ensure there is no damage or infection to the surrounding teeth, a dentist may recommend extraction. A full oral examination is done, along with x-rays. The dentist then decides if extraction is the best option. Anesthesia also may be necessary or recommended for the extraction.

Overcrowded teeth.

For those patients that have crooked or overcrowded teeth and orthodontic treatment is not an option, extraction may be necessary for one or more of the teeth that are crooked or crowded. This will, in turn, eliminate the overcrowding. From there, a dentist can straighten the smile of the patient.


For those patients that have been in an accident and suffered dental trauma, repair options will need to be considered. This may include the placement of bridges, crowns, bonding, or veneers. At a certain point, though, repair may no longer be an option for damaged teeth. When this is the case, extraction is the only option. This is never the first choice for a dentist, but without extraction more complications can occur. Often a simple extraction can be performed to remove a damaged tooth, but surgical extraction may be required if the tooth is difficult to reach. Your dentist will consider the damage that has occurred after an injury and recommend the best course of treatment to meet your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions about Tooth Extractions Indianapolis, Indiana [IN]

How should I prepare for a tooth extraction?

Before your tooth extraction, you may want to do some initial research. You can also ask your dentist any questions you may have. If you are well-prepared, you may feel less anxious and stressed. Before you visit your dentist’s office for the procedure, you should know what will happen once the procedure has started.

Make sure you disclose any medical conditions you may have. Don’t leave any information out. Your dentist or oral surgeon needs this information. If you don’t mention conditions you have, it may lead to an adverse drug interaction or infection. Make sure you bring a detailed list of any medications you are taking.

Have a discussion with your dentist about the anesthesia and painkillers that will be used. You should understand any potential side effects. If you’ve had any issues with these drugs in the past, your dentist needs to know.

You may not be able to eat any food for 12 hours before your extraction. This may not be the case if only local anesthetic is used. Your dentist’s office will let you know. Do not smoke for 24 hours after the procedure, and for 12 hours before.

Below are a few more tips:

  • Ask a friend or family member to drive you home—particularly if anesthesia is used. You may be too impaired to drive after the procedure.
  • Wear comfortable clothing, and avoid fragrances, jewelry, and makeup.
  • Consider taking some time off work after the procedure (one or two days). To learn more about the recovery time for your specific procedure, speak with your dentist.

What happens after the tooth extraction?

After an extraction, it may take a day or two for you to start feeling better. Your face will feel numb for a little while after the procedure itself, but the anesthesia will eventually wear off in a few hours or so. You will be put on a temporary special diet of liquids and soft foods. During this time, you should not spit, rinse, or drink through a straw. This can lead to a dry socket. When you are laying down, prop your head up. Also, avoid the extraction area when you are brushing your teeth.

It’s extremely important to follow your dentist’s instructions for the painkillers you are given. Also, keep an eye on the extraction site. While there will likely be swelling, severe bleeding is a bad sign. Contact a doctor if you experience chills, nausea, fever, vomiting, shortness of breath, or chest pains, as this may mean there is an infection.

Will my extraction be covered by insurance?

The answer depends on your specific insurance. Our office staff will look over your benefits, but you may also need to call your insurance provider to make sure extraction is covered before your procedure.