What to expect when getting a tooth pulled

When you hear “tooth removal,” you may think of metal pliers and a lot of pain. However, it’s a fairly standard and pain-free procedure in modern dentistry.

Here’s some information to help you understand the facts about tooth extraction.


Although permanent teeth are meant to last a lifetime, some need to be removed for health or cosmetic reasons. This outpatient procedure is performed by a dentist or oral surgeon and can be finished relatively quickly. To help avoid pain, local, general or intravenous anesthesia can be used before the tooth is extracted.1


Reasons for getting a tooth pulled include:

  • Damage from trauma or decay
  • Overcrowded teeth
  • Impacted teeth
  • Tooth infection
  • Risk of tooth infection


There are 2 types of tooth extraction procedures:2

  1. Simple extraction—If the tooth is easily accessible and visible in the mouth, a simple extraction is usually performed. This procedure is commonly done using 2 instruments: an elevator and dental forceps. The elevator loosens the tooth and the forceps grasp the tooth for its extraction.
  2. Surgical extraction—If the tooth cannot be easily accessed, or is broken under the gum line, surgical tooth extraction may be necessary. After making a small incision to open the gums, forceps are used to extract the tooth or tooth fragments. In some cases, an intact tooth that is impacted may be broken into pieces for easier extraction.

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Recovery care

The amount of pain and discomfort afterward can depend on which tooth was pulled and/or how many teeth were pulled. To help reduce bleeding and aid in clot formation, your dentist will likely ask you to:3

  • Avoid eating or drinking immediately after surgery
  • Change the gauze as often as necessary
  • Avoid spitting forcefully and avoid rinsing your mouth
  • Avoid using straws and eat only soft foods
  • Take any recommended medication
  • Get plenty of rest

Humana can help with tooth extraction

If you need to get a tooth pulled, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with affordable monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana dental insurance page.

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  1. “Pulling a Tooth (Tooth Extraction),” WebMD, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/pulling-a-tooth-tooth-extraction#1.
  2. “Types of Dental Extraction,” News Medical, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.news-medical.net/health/Types-of-Dental-Extraction.aspx.
  3. “Pulling a Tooth (Tooth Extraction).”