Can I pull my own tooth?
Don’t laugh. People really do try! In general, the answer to this question is NO! There are only two situations when it is even possible for a person to extract his/her own tooth.
- The first situation is a loose baby tooth, and even then it is usually a good idea to check on the general age when that particular baby tooth is supposed to get loose. (This coincides with the general time when the adult tooth will erupt.) If you try to pull a “loose” baby tooth and it turns out that it is only abscessed, then you could have a real disaster on your hands to include a very sick and unhappy child. (See explanation beside the image below.)
- The second situation is when an older patient has had severe gum disease for a long time (most of these people are well over the age of 45), and the tooth is is extremely loose (very wobbly) because the gum disease has caused the loss of almost all of the bone that used to surround the tooth. In the latter case, even touching the tooth can be extremely painful and attempting to yank on it will be much worse (not to mention bloody). Even then, if you misjudge the amount of bone remaining around the tip of the root, you may only succeed in breaking the top off the tooth.
Just because a tooth feels loose, it doesn’t mean that it will be easy to pull out with a pair of pliers. The image above shows an x-ray of two teeth, one of which has an abscess. The gray frothy material that surrounds the roots of the teeth is the patient’s jawbone. The top of the bone is denoted by the blue arrows. If a tooth has an abscess like the one on the molar, it may not only be painful to touch, but it may be be slightly mobile (loose). The looseness is caused by the swelling of the ligament that surrounds the root of the tooth. (The ligament is like a very sheer sock. The inside of the sock is attached to the root of the tooth, and the outside of the sock is attached to the bone.) You can see that the length of the roots that are embedded in the bone is very great, and even if the tooth feels a bit wobbly, it is not likely to pull out of the bone, even if you give a great, fast yank. The top is more likely to break off leaving the roots (and the abscess) still in place, and you will end up having to go to the dentist anyway in order to have them removed surgically. (Note: Dentists don’t actually “pull” teeth out. They rock the tooth slowly side to side until the bone surrounding it expands and the ligament breaks allowing it to slide out. Click here for more on how dentists remove teeth.)
Finally, if you attempt to remove the tooth and fail in the attempt, the infection that has caused all the pain is likely to spread and cause a massive problem that could put you in the hospital.