How To Pull Out a Tooth - Complete Guide

Ever wondered how you can pull out teeth at home and at the dentist? This guide will cover everything that you'd need to know about taking out teeth but we'll also go over why you may or may not want to do it even if you could.


There is a lot more risk in doing so than what you may have expected. It is not so simple as just taking the tooth out. Hopefully, you'll be able to make an informed decision and do the right thing after this.



Table of Contents:



How to pull out a tooth for children

The best way to pull out a loose tooth for your child is by wiggling it throughout the day and letting it fall out naturally while eating. This is the least traumatizing and most painless way to remove a wiggly tooth at home.


This is how you pull a wiggly tooth out:

  1. Wiggle the tooth back and forth with your fingers or tongue.

  2. Repeat the process as many times as possible throughout the day.

  3. Tooth should fall out during one of their meals.


Wiggling it and letting it come off while eating is the most natural way for baby teeth to come out. It should be the most desired way for parents to pull out baby teeth because it isn't scary to their child and it is also the most cost effective option. It costs nothing to let the tooth come out by itself as opposed to paying for a pediatric tooth extraction.



What if the wiggly tooth is not coming out even after a week of wiggling?

You need to be patient because if you've been wiggling it and its not coming out, it simply means that it is not ready yet. In order to understand why that is the case, it helps to understand why baby (primary) teeth get loose in the first place.


Primary teeth get loose when the adult (permanent) tooth underneath of it starts to erupt. As the adult tooth erupts higher and higher, it causes the roots of the primary tooth to shrink more and more. As the baby tooth's root gets smaller and smaller, it will become looser and looser over time.



Once the baby tooth's root shrinks enough, it will get loose enough to fall out on its own. That is usually the time when it is ready for it to come out. You can help it along by wiggling it and speed up the process.


If it isn't coming out, it simply means that you should wait for the adult tooth to erupt more. As the permanent tooth grows more, the baby tooth will get looser. In other words, you should just be patient.



Alternative ways to pull out a tooth

If you're impatient and just want to get it over with, there are alternative albeit less natural ways to pull out that loose tooth. Most of them involve using a long piece of floss or string that is tied to the tooth.


Floss and pull

This is probably the safest way out of the four to pull that primary tooth. Although our preference is for the tooth to just come out naturally or for you to take your child to the pediatric dentist.

  1. Tie a piece of floss to the wiggly tooth.

  2. Pull the floss really fast.

  3. Tooth should be in your hands.

  4. Bite down on gauze to stop the bleeding.


Here is a video by Dr Chad Johnson showing how it is done on his daughter. The entire process should be quick and don't forget the good luck kiss on the forehead before you pull it out!




String and doorknob method

This method seems a little dangerous because a lot of things can go wrong by slamming a door. You'll most likely end up regretting doing this so we can't really recommend this.

  1. Tie a piece of floss or string to the loose tooth.

  2. Tie the other end to a door knob.

  3. Shut the door with some force but not too hard.


Doggy treat method

Using your dog to help you pull a tooth seems a little ridiculous and also dangerous. We cannot recommend this way that has been floating around on the internet.

  1. Tie a string to the wiggly tooth.

  2. Tie the other end to your dog's collar.

  3. Throw a doggy treat to make it run after it.

  4. The tooth should come flying out attached to the doggy collar.


Fly ball method

This method seems like it may cause other unintended injuries because you're swinging around a ball and bat. Definitely do not bother trying this...

  1. Tie a string to a ball.

  2. Tie the other end to the tooth in question.

  3. Throw the ball up in the air.

  4. Hit the ball and the tooth should come out with it.


Can you imagine all the things that can possibly go wrong with these alternative ways to pull a tooth because we certainly can. If you really can't wait for the tooth to get loose enough to come out, you can also utilize the last resort which is see a pediatric dentist.



Last resort - Let the pediatric dentist pull the tooth

If you're unable to pull the tooth and absolutely can't wait for it to come out on its own, you can always take your child to the pediatric dentist. It is 100% guaranteed that they'll be able to pull the tooth for you. You will definitely leave feeling extremely satisfied because the tooth will finally be out.


Here is what to expect:

  1. Apply the numbing cream.

  2. Administer local anesthetic - lidocaine.

  3. Elevate the tooth.

  4. Twist and pull with forceps.

  5. Tooth should be out.

  6. Bite down gauze to stop the bleeding.



If the tooth removal makes you cringe, then you should understand what we mean by letting the tooth fall out naturally as being the least traumatic. With that said, even though the child may be squirming, they're definitely numb from the anesthetic and what they're feeling is most likely just pressure and not pain.




How to pull out a tooth for an adult

Normally it is next to impossible to be able to pull out an adult tooth at home but there is one exception. You can do it if the tooth is extremely loose due to severe periodontitis, which is the last stage of gum disease.


This is how you do it:

  1. Dry the tooth and gums with tissue or paper towels.

  2. Apply orajel or anbesol to the tooth and gums.

  3. Rub the numbing cream around for about 2-3 minutes.

  4. Tie a piece of floss to the tooth.

  5. Pull the floss as fast as you can and the tooth should be in your hands.


This method ONLY works if the tooth is extremely loose. If you wanted to know what we meant by extremely loose, here are some vivid descriptions:

  • Tooth looks like it'll come out if you bite into an apple.

  • When you talk, the tooth is swaying in the air.

  • You can move the tooth side to side at least a quarter inch each side with your fingers.


For adult teeth, the situations listed above will only apply for severely periodontally compromised teeth. Basically they're teeth that have been affected by advanced periodontitis, which eats away at the surrounding bone of the teeth.


x-ray of teeth with periodontitis
x-ray of teeth with periodontitis

What that means is that the teeth are barely embedded into the bone and that causes them to be loose. End stage periodontal diseased teeth will even fall out on their own if you don't get gum treatment for them!


Even though that is how you can do it, we don't recommend doing it which we will explain below.



Why you shouldn't pull out an adult tooth at home

It is acceptable to pull primary teeth at home because they are inherently different from adult teeth. Here are two reasons which make it extremely difficult for you to pull out your own tooth at home:

  • They don't have a tooth trying to erupt below them.

  • They have long roots that are embedded deep into the jaw bone.


There is no tooth erupting below

The adult teeth are the permanent teeth so they do not have a replacement tooth that is erupting below them to replace them as soon as they're pulled. This is in contrast to baby teeth which have the permanent ones below them erupting to replace them as soon as they're pulled.


The erupting tooth below the primary teeth actually cause the baby teeth's roots to resorb and shorten. Due to the shortening roots the tooth will naturally get looser the more the tooth below it erupts.


Long roots that are embedded into the jaw

Since adult teeth are the permanent teeth, they don't have a tooth below them trying to erupt and shorten their roots. This means that they retain the full length of the tooth roots that are embedded into the jaw.


x-ray of normal root length of front teeth
x-ray of normal root length of front teeth

To give you an idea of what we're talking about, we've provided an x-ray above of the front teeth with normal root length. In the photo below, we have front teeth where the roots where shortened and resorbed from trauma. You can tell that the roots are significantly shorter and thus the tooth is less embedded into the jaw bone.


x-ray of shortened front tooth roots due to trauma
x-ray of shortened front tooth roots due to trauma

Essentially, trauma can cause the permanent teeth roots to shrink. The shrinking of the roots will make the teeth looser. Baby teeth naturally have this shortened root effect due to the adult tooth below it erupting. When the roots shrink, less of the tooth becomes embedded into the bone and that makes the tooth start to get looser.


If you wanted an analogy, you can think of a tree that is planted into the ground. The deeper it is planted, the more stable the tree will be. If the tree isn't planted very deep it will be very unstable and you can probably topple it over just by pushing.


Teeth are the same exact way, the longer the roots and the more embedded into the bone it is the more sturdy it will be. However as the roots start to shrink it will start getting loose and wiggly. Since adult teeth lack this feature, it makes it much more difficult for you to take them out at home.



How to pull out a tooth that isn't loose

Due to the adult teeth having long intact roots and not having an erupting tooth below them, they are often NOT loose. This makes it extremely difficult for you to pull the tooth out at home. The only reason that you can pull out teeth at home is because they are wiggly and that usually only applies to baby teeth.


Nonetheless, that doesn't mean that you can't pull a tooth which isn't loose, you can but you just need to see the dentist! The only one that can pull the non-loose tooth out for you safely and properly is none other than your dentist.


However, if you insist on trying to do it because you've always dreamt of being a dentist, we're here to persuade you why you shouldn't. Here are some of the things that can go wrong with DIY tooth extractions.

  • The tooth will break and the tooth root will get stuck in the gums.

  • You will fail and cause yourself a lot of pain.

  • You'll end up going to the dentist anyway.


tooth broken at gum line with roots still in
tooth broken at gum line with roots still in

The picture above is of two teeth that are broken down to the gum line. The roots of the teeth are still embedded into the gums. This is what the end result will be if you try to remove them by yourself with pliers at home.


Once it breaks down to the gum line, you'll be unable to remove it because there will be nothing for your pliers to even grab. Thus, if you attempt to do it yourself, you'll just end up with broken tooth roots that are stuck and you'll be in a lot of pain. After that you'll muster up the courage to make an appointment with your dentist anyway.


Due to those reasons, we recommend to skip all of the self torture and just go see your dentist. They'll numb you up real well and make sure to remove the entire tooth including the roots if they break during the procedure.




How to pull out teeth without pain

As you may have already guessed, the only way to pull out teeth painlessly is by letting your dentist do it. Aside from the initial pinch from the injection, you'll be numb for the entire procedure so you won't feel a thing. Pressure is normal but at least you won't feel anything sharp while the tooth is being removed.


What to expect if you get it pulled at the dentist:

  1. Apply topical anesthetic, the numbing gel.

  2. Administer local anesthetic to numb the whole tooth.

  3. Cut the periodontal ligament with a sharp instrument or scalpel.

  4. Elevate the tooth with an elevator to lift it up.

  5. Grab and deliver the tooth with forceps.

  6. Currette the socket to clean out debris.

  7. Irrigate to flush out any debris in the socket.

  8. Place stitches if needed.



How much does it cost to pull a tooth out at the dentist

If cost was the barrier that was deterring you from having your dentist do it, we'll make it as transparent as possible for how much it costs to have a tooth pulled.


According to the ADA (american dental association) the average national fee to have a tooth removed is $291.53 in the United States. The price may differ but the differences can be attributed to cost of living so it really depends on where you live.

  • The lowest tooth extraction fee was $220.

  • The highest tooth extraction fee was $400.


These numbers were based off of a 2020 survey by the ADA. The data here is only from the dentists who were willing to contribute to the survey. There are of course many offices which did not participate. If you wanted to be sure you should just give the office a call and see what the fees are. However, this does give you a general idea of what to kind of expect!



Takeaway

There is no one stopping you from attempting to pull out your own tooth but we only recommend it if it's a baby tooth. Primary teeth have an erupting tooth beneath it and thus shorter roots which make it inherently loose. That makes them possible and more easy to remove at home.


Adult teeth on the other hand do not have a tooth below it resorbing its roots. The end result is that they have much longer roots that are deeply embedded into your jaw. That makes them next to impossible for you to remove at home. We highly recommend that you schedule an appointment with your dentist to have it done.


If you decide to proceed despite our warnings, what will most likely happen is you'll end up causing yourself a lot of pain. You'll attempt and fail each time. The tooth will also most likely break and the root tips will just be stuck in the gums. You'll be unable to get it out and have to go to the dentist anyway.


If you are nearby, we offer tooth extractions in long island city. If you're not even in NY, we would recommend finding a dentist near you to have it done! That is what we recommend.


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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!