Often a feature of comics and cartoons and for those in the depths of despair during a raging bout of toothache, and unable to think clearly because of the pain, the idea of using string and a door-handle to yank the tooth out is almost acceptable. Either that, or tie string to the tooth and have someone else pull on it! Abscesses are the worst, and never seem to let up no matter what you do. In this case, a dentist will need to extract the tooth and supply you with antibiotics to fight off the infection which caused the abscess. Historically, a diseased tooth was linked to a number of different health conditions, and as a result the removal of a tooth was often the remedy to this.
The instruments used to extract the teeth of humans can be dated as far back as the fourteenth century, when Guy De Chauliac invented the pelican device. This was used through to the 18th century, when it was replaced by the dental key, a kind of hand-held device which was tightened to the tooth and used to rock and twist it loose, which was then replaced in the 20th century by forceps. In some rare cases around the world, tooth extraction has been used as a tortuous way of trying to gain information over an enemy in a warfare situation.
Methods of Tooth Removal
There are only a few methods available to those who refuse to visit a dentist to address the issue. These include:
- Twisting the tooth
- Rocking the tooth back and forward
- Biting into an apple once the tooth is loose enough
- Using pliers
Although the string and handle method pop up in online forums regarding this issue, it is usually only said in jest. Most people prefer to use a combination of twisting and rocking over a period of time, doing a little each day, until the tooth has been loosened sufficiently enough to be pulled out by the fingers in a short stroke. This avoids too much pain, and unnecessarily aggravating the surrounding gum tissue, causing inflammation and possible bleeding. Pressing ice cubes against the area in between helps reduce the pain, and over the counter drugs can be purchased to reduce the swelling.
Many people report this as a successful and relatively stress free way of extracting your own tooth. Of course, anyone inserting a pair of uninfected pliers into their mouths risks an infection, which would send them to the dentist anyway. Other dangers of self extraction include injuring your jaw, or surrounding gum, or missing and damaging other healthy teeth. Those people without a fear of visiting the dentist will know that he or she will use two instruments when extracting a tooth:
- Tooth Elevator
- Tooth Extractor
The tooth elevator is basically a long, thin hand-held tool the dentist will use to try and jam down the side of the tooth and the jaw bone. Remember by this point he will have administered a pain relieving injection! This is the added bonus of going to a dentist compared to a home extraction; they will administer a numbing injection so you won’t feel any pain. The aim of the dentist is to successfully raise the tooth, by pressing against the softer jaw bone, and allowing the tooth to move slightly up. He may spend a few minutes manoeuvring the tooth at both sides before moving on to use the second piece of equipment. When the tooth is elevated sufficiently, the dentist, using the Tooth Extractor –another hand-held device like a pair of pliers- will attempt to grab the top of the tooth and twist and rock the tooth until it can be loosened enough to extract with a sharp jerk.
Extracting Baby Teeth
Baby, milk, or primary teeth are temporary teeth we have as a child, and they fall out as we grow to make way for stronger, permanent adult teeth. Most children are around six or seven when this happens, although this age can vary. Many children have no real issues about their first set of teeth falling out, and accept the experience as part of growing up without much fuss. Of course, the added bonus is of the traditional Tooth Fairy, who exchanges the milk teeth of children for money!
Dental professionals will say that it is perfectly normal for children’s teeth to fall out or to be encouraged to become loose and then self-extracted, but will also say that for other children, a visit to the dentist is necessary, and in some cases multiple milk teeth are extracted at the same time, to allow future teeth the space to comfortable grow into the gap. If the area is kept clean, there should be no real dangers from a person’s first set of teeth falling out, and their second set coming through.