Wondering how to pull your own tooth? Well, stop right there! Unless you are a kid and have a baby tooth that is begging to come out, and you're reading this article with your legal guardian, you should not pull your own tooth!
And even if it is a baby tooth, you should let it fall out on its own.
The risk of infection, not to mention the immense pain, is so high that a trip to the dentist is necessary to ensure that your other teeth and overall health remain intact.
Who knows, maybe the dentist can save the tooth you think needs to be removed! So let's look at the reasons why a tooth might need removing, how to do it at home, and the reasons why you shouldn't.
Before we dive in, if you need immediate dental advice and a struggling to get in to see a dentist, you can get free advice from a qualified dentist 24/7 with Denteractive.
Table of contents
When does a tooth need to be pulled?
Humans have two sets of teeth in their life. The first set, baby teeth, become loose naturally and usually fall out on their own, which means they don't really need to be pulled.
Sometimes the teeth can hang around for a few weeks before coming out and at this point, many children will try to help the process along by pushing on it with their fingers and tongue.
The video on this page features an ADA dentist who explains how to pull a child's tooth properly.
As you can imagine, the conversation when it comes to adult teeth is quite a bit different. Adult teeth aren't meant to come out, but may need to come out if one of the following occurs:
If you are experiencing severe pain and are considering how to pull a tooth at home, go to a dentist or the emergency room to receive an assessment and antibiotics if there are signs of infection. The bottom line is, you shouldn't pull your own adult teeth at home — something that 17% of Americans have resorted to.
If you're struggling to see a dentist or just want to get some advice immediately, you can have an online consultation with Denteractive. They have a team of licensed dentists available 24/7 for a live video call where they will assess your problem, offer advice, and prescribe medication if needed.
There is also the option for a text chat where you can share photos of your teeth for an assessment.
Home tooth extraction
Can I pull my own tooth out? The short answer is that you can but you really shouldn't. Having dental insurance is the primary way to keep the cost of tooth extraction down but it isn't feasible for everyone.
Removing your own chompers is very difficult and can be very painful if you cannot acquire local anesthesia. The good news is, chances are that an emergency dentist or clinic is available in your area that offers services on a sliding scale fee.
You can call 866-383-0748 now to get in touch with a dentist near you, 24/7. Make sure to keep everything as clean as possible to avoid infection while you find a professional near you. A trip to the dentist is a much safer option than a DIY endeavor.
How to extract a tooth at home
First, you don't. You visit a qualified professional. We don't recommend you take your own teeth out, but if you must, here are a few ways it can be done.
‘String and door' approach
If your child’s tooth is about to fall out, you can try this method to entertain your child, but force won’t be needed if the tooth is truly ready.
Dentists do not recommend ripping a tooth out of a child's mouth as it can damage tissue. This method should never be used on adults. Having your tooth pulled out of your mouth via string attached to a doorknob is a lot more likely to end in severe pain, infection, and further dental damage than success.
If you want to try this method with a child's very loose tooth:
- First, you tie a string around the part you feel needs to be removed and tie the other end to a doorknob.
- Then stand as far away from the door as the string will reach and have another person slam the door closed.
If you're a child with a loose tooth then this method can work fairly well and is mostly pain-free. But if you're an adult with a damaged tooth, this method can lead to damaging neighboring teeth, the root, or the bone beneath the gums.
This method is incredibly dangerous and won't work well for anyone without a lot of luck. Basically, you grab onto the affected area with a pair of (ideally sanitized) pliers and try to yank it out.
If, in theory, you were to try this approach (which you should never do) make sure you have some gauze wrapped around the plier tips so you don't crush it and end up with a worse situation.
This method can also damage surrounding teeth very easily and lead to a world of pain and other more dangerous issues if not done properly. If you are planning to have your tooth pulled by this method then go to a dentist instead.
How to pull a broken tooth at home
The simplest answer to this is DON'T. If it is broken then your oral health is already at great risk and requires a visit to the dentist. A broken tooth is considered a dental emergency. Removing one at home is especially dangerous if you don't have the proper tools.
The risk of pieces breaking off and damaging the gums, the bone, or other areas is too great. If your biters are broken, go seek the help of a dentist immediately. Below is a video of how this type of extraction is done; you'll see that it isn't something easily accomplished at home.
Risks when pulling your own tooth
The biggest risk that comes along with pulling out your own teeth is infection. Even though children's teeth are okay to be pulled out (if they are very loose), it's recommended to keep hands out of the mouth as this can introduce plenty of harmful bacteria to the environment.
This is also the same for adults. Keep your own hands out of your mouth! If you are going to remove a tooth without a dentist nearby, which you shouldn't, then use gloves and sanitize everything thoroughly before and after the procedure.
Another risk is that you will also damage the surrounding teeth by knocking them with tools not meant for dental work, not pulling directly up, or by damaging the jawbone or roots.
Don't forget, you can chat to a dentist online right now using Denteractive. Their team of licensed dentists can give you some advice on the best course of action before you attempt anything yourself.
And if you're considering removing a tooth because it's extremely painful, your assigned dentist should be able to prescribe medication to relieve your pain and fight any infection. You can also find out more about online dentistry in our full teledentistry guide here.
How to find a low-cost dentist near you
Not everyone has the luxury of an expensive dental insurance plan, or the ability to come up with the co-pay amount of $75-$800 per extraction. If you don't know where to go and you're struggling financially to pay for the dental treatment you need, try these options:
- Visit the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website. Government websites can be difficult to navigate, but this page is a great resource for finding low-income resources near you.
- Find out if your city has a community clinic. Especially in bigger cities, there are plenty of clinics that offer affordable options for care.
- If you have medical insurance but not dental, you can go to your local hospital's ER and at least get antibiotics and checked out for infection.
- Visiting a dental school clinic is a fantastic opportunity. The students can practice their skills and you get cheap healthcare.
If you don't have dental insurance, read our article about finding a dentist with low-cost care. You can also have a look at the following table for a summary of your options and costs for tooth pulling:
Cost of extraction
Free, or cost of supplies
Dentist with insurance
50%-100% cost deduction
Dentist without insurance
$75-$600 depending on severity
Dental school clinic
About 50% cost deduction
Sliding scale or free clinics
$0-What you can pay
We certainly do not recommend that you attempt to extract your own teeth at home. You should always seek the assistance of medical professionals. Call 866-383-0748 to get connected with an available dentist near you.
There are ways to pull your tooth yourself at home, but the risks associated with these methods are far too great when compared to the safety of a community dental clinic, dental school, or another low-income dentistry option. This way you can avoid walking into a clinic with a swollen mouth and a look that says, “I pulled my own tooth!”.
If you cannot access the dental care you need right now, we recommend you have a free online consultation instead. Although it doesn't replace a visit in person, you will be able to get free advice from a qualified dentist, 24/7. And if you need antibiotics or painkillers, pick the live video chat option so they can give you a prescription.
Can you pull your own tooth?
Yes, but just because you can, doesn't mean that you should. The risks associated with DIY methods are not worth it, and even if you can't pay, there are plenty of options to get professional help. When you find yourself in a dental emergency, doing it yourself is never the best answer.
Why do I need to pull my tooth?
A tooth may need to be extracted if there is severe decay, gum disease, breakage, crowding, or infection. But you shouldn't pull your tooth; you should always seek professional treatment.
Is it safe to pull your own tooth?
No! Do not attempt to remove your own teeth. Always consult a professional and seek the advice of a doctor before trying to remove a tooth. Plus, it's possible that your tooth can be saved!
Sunstar: Global Healthy Thinking Report. Consulted 11th September 2021.
ADA: Tooth Extraction. Consulted 5 July, 2020.
Mouthhealthy.org: My child's tooth is about to fall out. Should I help him take it out? Consulted 6th February 2023.