Removing Teeth

This page will give you information about removing teeth. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

Why do I need to have a tooth removed?

There are many reasons why you may need to have a tooth removed, such as tooth decay, gum disease and trauma.

Are there any alternatives to removing a tooth?

Simple painkillers such as paracetamol can help control mild pain and antibiotics can help with infection.

Sometimes root-canal treatment will help to treat infection and pain.

Depending on how damaged your tooth is, your dentist may be able to rebuild it with a filling or crown.

What does the operation involve?

Most teeth are removed under a local anaesthetic that is injected around your tooth to numb it. However, removing a tooth can sometimes be difficult. The operation can take up to 40 minutes.

Your surgeon will loosen and remove your tooth with instruments (see figure 1).

Sometimes removing a tooth can involve cutting the gum to uncover your tooth, removing bone around your tooth and dividing your tooth with a drill.

What complications can happen?

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Infection
  • Dry socket
  • Retained roots
  • Damage to nearby teeth
  • Sinus problems
  • Broken jaw
  • Not being able to open your mouth fully (trismus) and jaw stiffness
  • Damage to nerves
  • Bisphosphonate-associated osteonecrosis of your jaw

How soon will I recover?

After the operation your surgeon will make sure that any bleeding has stopped. You should be able to go home the same day.

Try to leave the wound alone for one to two days. Then rinse your mouth gently with hot, salty water four times a day for the next two days.

To reduce the risk of swelling and bruising, do not exercise, drink alcohol or have a hot bath for one to two weeks. You may need to take up to a week off work.

Most people make a full recovery.


Teeth can sometimes cause serious problems. Removing a tooth is usually a safe and effective way to prevent your symptoms from coming back.


Author: Mr Andrew Sidebottom FDSRCS FRCS

Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM


This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Copyright © 2016 EIDO Healthcare Limited. The operation and treatment information on this website is produced by EIDO Healthcare Ltd and used under licence by Aspen Healthcare.

The intellectual property rights to the information belong exclusively to EIDO Healthcare Limited. You may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information other than for your personal, non-commercial use. The information should not replace any advice that your relevant health professional would give you.