Surgical tooth extraction is much more common than it used to be, for a variety of reasons. If you need a tooth extracted, here’s what you need to know.

Do I need a surgical tooth extraction?

Surgical tooth extraction includes any type of surgical procedure that’s performed to fully remove a tooth. This may include cutting into the gum to access the tooth, or sectioning the tooth into more than one piece for easier removal.

Although it remains the most well-known type of extraction, surgical tooth extraction is not just for wisdom teeth. Dentists perform surgical tooth extractions for any of the following conditions.

Broken tooth

If your tooth breaks or cracks beyond repair, either due to decay, periodontal disease, or during a simple extraction, surgical tooth extraction may be necessary.

Surgical extraction is generally recommended to relieve crowding or to treat a tooth that is not capable of being saved with a dental restoration such as a dental crown.

Root tip extraction

Even simple extractions can end up surgically if the root tip breaks off. Your teeth have two main outer areas: the crown above the gumline and the roots below. Sometimes in simple extractions, a tooth’s root tip may break off.

While some dentists elect to leave the root tip, especially if it goes undiscovered until after the extraction site has healed, most others will opt to use oral surgery for extraction.

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth extraction is probably the most well known type of surgical tooth extraction. Over ten million wisdom teeth are extracted annually.

Impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth require surgical extraction.

After root canal

In some cases, teeth that have been treated with root canal continue to be a problem. Decay and infection can lead to abscess, which may be prevented by surgical tooth extraction.

Surgical extraction vs. simple extraction

Not all tooth extractions are surgical. There are some differences when talking about a surgical extraction vs simple extraction.

A simple tooth extraction occurs when the tooth being extracted is:

  • Not anchored into the bone
  • Clearly visible above the gumline
  • Positioned in such a way that your dentist can remove it with the help of dental forceps

A surgical extraction is a much more involved process. The tooth being extracted may only be partially erupted, or it may be firmly attached to the underlying bone structures in such a way that it would be challenging to simply “pull” it out.

Surgical extraction is used when there are complicating factors that mean the tooth needs more help than just pulling or twisting to be extracted.

What should I expect during a surgical tooth extraction procedure?

Your surgical extraction begins with an X-ray to determine the exact position of the tooth and to plan a course of action.

Once you and your dentist have decided on a clear path, your dentist will numb the surgical area with a local anesthetic. This may be a local anesthetic, general anesthetic, or, in rare cases, IV sedation. Sometimes your dentist will use a combination of nitrous oxide for relaxation and local injected anesthetic for pain. Each patient and their needs are different.

Many patients worry about feeling pain during the procedure. Your dentist will take special care to make sure you are not feeling any pain during the procedure. When you receive a numbing injection, you may feel a pinch or sting that soon subsides. You may also feel pressure and movement in the jaw, but there should b