If a child has loose baby teeth, it’s generally safe to pull them out at home. However, you should never pull an adult tooth yourself.
Pulling adult teeth can cause dangerous complications. See a dentist if you think you need to remove an adult tooth.
Also, take caution with your child’s baby teeth. Generally, it’s best to let them fall out on their own, but there are some circumstances when pulling them yourself is appropriate.
When to Pull Out Your Child’s Tooth
Baby teeth are designed to fall out on their own. You will rarely need to pull a baby tooth manually.
Avoid pulling out a baby tooth too early. Baby teeth act as space maintainers for permanent teeth. They have wide roots that accommodate the developing adult teeth.1 As the developing adult teeth emerge, they push on the baby teeth, making them progressively looser a few weeks before they’re ready to fall out.
Baby teeth can be subject to decay, just like adult teeth. Leaving a decayed baby tooth in place for too long can harm the underlying permanent teeth. Decay in baby teeth is a strong predictor of decay in adult teeth.2
If you suspect your child’s loose tooth is decayed, visit a dentist immediately, as decay and infection can cause a baby tooth to become prematurely loose. If the loose tooth seems healthy, there are safe ways to pull it at home.
How to Safely Pull Your Child’s Loose Tooth
The safest way to remove a loose baby tooth is to let it fall out on its own. If the tooth is stubborn, you can encourage the child to wiggle it gently back and forth with their tongue. This method will loosen it. They can also use clean fingers or a piece of sterile gauze.
Biting into an apple or granola bar may also help remove the loose tooth.
Can I Pull an Adult Tooth Out on My Own?
No, you should never pull an adult tooth on your own. It will put your oral health at risk.
Adult teeth are permanently rooted in the jaw and connected to the gums, nerves, and blood vessels. Pulling a permanent tooth can damage the mouth and cause infection and even facial collapse.
It can also be painful. Research shows around 81% of people who had a tooth extracted, even with local anesthesia, experienced pain afterward.3 For some, the pain continued for a week.
A dentist uses specialized tools and pain management medications to make the process safe and easy. If you need an adult tooth removed, always seek professional help.
Reasons Adult Teeth Become Loose
Adult teeth may become loose for many reasons, including:
- Gum disease — The primary cause of loose adult teeth, gum disease, affects 47.2% of adults over 30.4
- Stress from grinding or clenching — Repeated grinding can weaken attached ligaments.
- Trauma — A tooth injury, such as from sports, may loosen a tooth.
Not all of these scenarios end in pulling the affected tooth. However, there are several reasons a dentist will remove a permanent tooth, including:
- Excessive decay or gum disease
- Tooth infection
- Overcrowding, such as with wisdom teeth
See a dentist if you have a loose adult tooth or other dental problems. Never attempt to pull a loose, damaged, or decaying permanent tooth yourself.
How to Pull Out a Tooth Without Pain
Losing baby teeth should be mostly pain-free. If a child feels pain after pulling a baby tooth, put them on a soft diet for the rest of the day. Advise them not to bite down directly on the area.
Pulling adult teeth, especially without proper equipment and medication, can be painful. If you lose a permanent tooth that has been loose for a while, apply ice to the area and take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication to reduce discomfort. Then, contact your dentist to schedule an appointment.
When to See a Doctor
Take a child to a dentist if you suspect one of their baby teeth is decaying or infected. The same is true if they complain of extreme or long-term pain in their baby teeth.
Also, see a dentist if an adult tooth becomes loose, painful, or discolored. Don’t take chances with painful teeth. Try a community or dental school clinic if you can’t afford dental care.
Baby teeth are designed to fall out on their own, but you can pull them using gentle methods if they are ready to come out. If a child’s tooth is painful, infected, or discolored, take them to a dentist.
Never pull an adult tooth on your own. This can result in severe mouth damage. Always consult an oral health professional if your permanent teeth become loose or injured.
- Waite, C. “Do Baby Teeth Matter?” British Dental Association, 09 Jan. 2019
- Nelson, S. et al. “Do Baby Teeth Matter? Changing Parental Perception and Increasing Dental Care Utilization for Young Children.” Contemporary Clinical Trials, National Library of Medicine, 04 May 2017
- Al-Khateeb, T.H., et al. “Pain Experience After Simple Tooth Extraction.” Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Elsevier Inc., 16 Apr. 2008
- “Periodontal disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 10 Jul. 2013
Published here: https://www.newmouth.com/blog/how-to-pull-tooth/