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Are Tooth Extractions Painful?

Dentist performing a tooth extraction procedure.You might imagine that a tooth extraction would be painful, as it is a pretty serious dental procedure that involves blood and sharp tools. But don’t let these things scare you — tooth extractions are actually nothing to fear. In fact, they will often put an end to whatever dental pain you are currently experiencing. Read on to learn what to expect from a tooth extraction in terms of pain and healing.

Reasons for tooth extraction

Rather than cause pain, a tooth extraction will often stop tooth pain. Extractions may be necessary in the following situations:

  • You have a painful tooth that is badly decayed to the point where it can’t be saved
  • You have an infection in your tooth that cannot be fully treated with antibiotics or root canal therapy
  • You have an injured or broken tooth
  • Your tooth is loose as a result of gum disease, which can result from not flossing

In addition to stopping pain from an infected or otherwise damaged tooth, a tooth extraction will prevent the spread of infection and make space for a healthy new tooth (dental implant) to eventually take its place.

Is tooth extraction a painful procedure?

During a tooth extraction, you should not feel any pain, apart from the momentary sting of the shot that delivers the anesthetic. This is true of virtually all modern dental procedures.

For a simple extraction, you will receive a local anesthetic to numb your gums and teeth in the area of the extraction. Once the anesthetic takes effect and we start work, you may feel some pressure, but no pain.

For more complicated extractions where teeth are impacted or there are multiple teeth requiring extraction, you will typically receive general anesthesia or IV sedation, causing you to sleep throughout the entire procedure.

Will I have pain after a tooth extraction?

While you won’t feel any pain during a tooth extraction, you will unfortunately experience some degree of pain during the recovery period. However, most of the time this pain is minimal and can be easily managed.

After we extract a tooth, a blood clot forms and gauze is placed into the socket to stop the bleeding. Recovery usually takes a few days and we give you some specific recommendations to enhance your healing and minimize pain during this time:

  • Take pain medication as prescribed
  • Apply ice as recommended to reduce swelling
  • Limit physical activity
  • Eat soft foods
  • Do not smoke or drink with a straw
  • Prop up your head with pillows when lying down

WebMD has some more useful information about what to expect after a tooth extraction, as does this article by Dr. Darryl Marsh.

In summary, you shouldn’t experience any pain during a tooth extraction. You will likely have some pain in the day or two following the procedure, but you can usually manage this discomfort with medication and by following our aftercare instructions.

Learn more about tooth extractions, including information about emergency tooth extractions and how to prevent tooth extractions, in our Tooth Extractions service page. Or, call me at 206-842-4848 to make an appointment to determine if you need an extraction.

Eli Thornock
I was born and raised in eastern Washington and I received my dental training at the University of Washington School of Dentistry, Class of 2011. Since then, I have been practicing in a private practice setting and have also completed more than one hundred hours of continuing education.
Eli Thornock
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