Using this guide What's covered

Here you’ll find the answers to many of your questions about tooth extraction. Learn how it works, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.

The basics

What's a tooth extraction?

An extraction is a dental procedure where a tooth is permanently removed from its socket in the jawbone. In simple terms, there are 2 types of extractions: routine general extractions and surgical extractions.

Routine extractions are those where the tooth is visible in the mouth and easily grasped by forceps. These extractions are generally performed by general dentists, using local anaesthetic.

A surgical extraction is required for a tooth that has either not yet broken through the gum, or a tooth that has broken off at, or below, the gum line and can't be easily removed. Surgical extractions are performed by dentists with more advanced skills in this area.

Some surgical extractions can be done in the dental surgery. More complicated surgical extractions may have to be performed under a general anaesthetic or conscious sedation in a day surgery or hospital. This level of surgery may be carried out by a suitably trained general dentist, oral surgeon or an oral and maxillo-facial surgeon (OMFS). 

Tooth extraction is performed under one of the following types of anaesthesia:

  • Local anaesthesia – Injected into the gum to make the area numb around the tooth to be removed.
  • Conscious sedation – Medications used intravenously to sedate the patient, along with local anaesthesia. An anaesthetist or dental sedationist must be present. The patient remains awake and can cooperate with the dentist.
  • General anaesthesia – Administered by an anaesthetist and the patient is asleep for the extraction. Fasting is required for at least 6 hours prior to the procedure.

Why's it done?

Common reasons include:

Tooth fracture, gum disease or decay

Your dentist will try to repair the fractured or repaired tooth. If they can’t, the tooth may need to be extracted.

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth (third molars) come through either in your late teens or early twenties, although it can occur later in life. Sometimes there isn't enough room in the mouth for these teeth and they crowd the molar next to it, causing pain and swelling.

If one, or all, of the wisdom teeth become impacted (are unable to break through the gum) it can cause pain, gum infections and sometimes decay to the wisdom tooth and/or the adjacent molar. Other teeth (such as canine and other molars) can become impacted as well, causing the same problems.

Abscessed (infected) tooth

This is an infection of either the root of a tooth or between the gum and tooth. The most common causes are advanced tooth decay, a severely broken-down tooth, or a tooth that's been affected or damaged by a severe trauma. The infection may be extremely painful. Your dentist will try to preserve the tooth by treating the infection but if they can’t, the tooth may have to be extracted.

Orthodontic treatment

An orthodontist may remove permanent or deciduous (baby) teeth to free up space for the teeth that are being moved into place.

Extra teeth

Some people have extra (supernumerary) teeth. If they block other teeth from breaking through the gum, they may need to be extracted to free up space.

Periodontal Disease:

A tooth may become inflamed and infected (a condition known as periodontal disease) due to a build-up of plaque and tartar on a tooth. If left untreated, it’s likely to lead to loss of both bone and tissue supporting the tooth root. This may cause the tooth to become loose in its socket. Treatment may not successfully save the tooth. 

Cracked tooth root:

A root may crack or split due to trauma. Extraction is required if repair not possible.

Where's it done?

Routine and minor surgical extractions are normally done at a dental surgery. Some dental surgeries are equipped to deliver IV sedation services. If general anaesthetic is required the procedure is performed in either a day surgery or hospital. 

How long does it take?

It depends on the number of teeth being extracted, as well as the reason for extraction.

Who's involved?

This will vary depending on the nature of the extraction. For multiple or difficult extractions, an oral surgeon will be involved while a dentist can perform simple extractions. An anaesthetist will be needed to administer sedation, depending on the procedure. Specialist nurses will assist during the procedure and recovery.

The details

Preparing for surgery

Choosing a specialist

How to find a dentist or oral surgeon.
Learn more

Questions for your specialist

What you should be asking before going ahead with tooth extraction.
Learn more

Preparing for your procedure

Pre-extraction treatment and what to take with you on the day.
Learn more

Procedure and aftercare

Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of your procedure.
Learn more

Your procedure

What happens in the operating theatre.
Learn more


Your aftercare and recovery.
Learn more

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Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.