Woman sits in a chair talking to the dentist about pulling a tooth.

Can You Pull Your Own Tooth?

If you’ve landed on this page you Googled something like “how to pull your own tooth.” You’ve either you’ve got a toothache that’s causing serious pain or you’re trying to help out someone who does. Please put down the pliers. Don’t just yank that thing out.

While you might be able to pull the problem tooth out, you could be doing more harm than good in the long run. The bottom line is you need to call your dentist immediately to get it taken care of. This is a problem you’ll want to be fixed by the pros.

The History of Tooth Extraction

You’re not the first one to have the idea of extracting a tooth. The practice has been around for centuries. With tooth infection being linked to many health issues, removing a problem tooth was a common treatment.

In the 14th century, a French physician invented a device called a dental pelican to yank out a tooth. As you may have guessed by the name, it looked kind of like a pelican’s beak. That was replaced about four centuries later by the dental key, and then in the 19th century, modern forceps were introduced.

Keep in mind that most of these were used before anesthetics were invented.

Why It’s a Bad Idea

You might think prying out your aching tooth will get rid of the pain you’re feeling. While it might cause some temporary relief (after the initial pain of getting the thing out of its socket), you could be making the problem worse.

Your biggest risk is infection. Putting your hands or some type of tool in your mouth introduces a lot of different bacteria that can be deposited in the tooth cavity. A dentist will often prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infections after a tooth extraction. If you have to pull the tooth yourself, at the very least you need to wear gloves and sanitize everything thoroughly.

Again, this is NOT a good idea.

Even if you don’t get an infection, you could cause a lot more damage than is already there. You might end up crushing the tooth or damaging the surrounding teeth and jawbone. That type of damage will make it a longer, more painful, and more expensive issue to correct.

There’s also the possibility that a tooth you think needs to be removed could still be saved. Only a dentist will be able to accurately evaluate the situation and take the necessary steps to either fix the tooth that’s there or prepare for a proper extraction.

Little girl looks in the mirror wondering if you can pull your own tooth.

Baby Tooth Removal Methods

When a child’s permanent teeth are ready to come in, their baby teeth have to move out of the way. To make this happen, the root of the baby tooth will start to dissolve as the adult teeth begin to erupt in the mouth. When those roots start to dissolve, that’s when you’ll notice the tooth getting loose.

Before you start tugging on that wiggly tooth, you need to know a few things.

A lot of the time a loose tooth will end up falling out on its own. That wiggliness gets uncomfortable, so children will wind up getting the tooth out by moving it around with their tongue or moving it with their fingers.

Sometimes kids just aren’t comfortable pulling the tooth, so they’ll ask for your help. It’s usually ok to help pull it out if the tooth is extremely wiggly. That means it’s just hanging on by a thread of the root that’s almost fully dissolved. If the tooth is just a little loose, you need to wait. It’s also important to make sure you’re not pulling a baby tooth until your child is at least 6 years old.

Do’s and Don’ts of Baby Tooth Removal

Remember those methods you or someone you know used to pull teeth? Well, you really shouldn’t do that. We’re talking about something like tying one end of a string to a doorknob and the other to the loose tooth then slamming the door. That can cause severe pain and other problems.

The correct method is to take a piece of gauze, tissue, or paper towel, grip the tooth, and quickly but gently twist it until the tooth comes out. If your child is worried about pain, put an ice pack on the gum near the tooth for a few minutes to numb the area.

Leave it to the Professionals

To make a long story short, you CAN pull your own tooth, but YOU SHOULDN’T.

If the time comes where you’re in so much pain you’re about to grab the pliers and yank that thing out, the bottom line is you need to take an emergency visit to the dentist. At the moment you’re dealing with that much pain it may seem like a good idea to just extract it yourself, but you will likely end up doing more harm than good.

Your best bet is to try to get your regular cleanings and have a daily routine that promotes your best oral health.