Q & A

Do People Really Pull Teeth with Pliers?

It’s likely that you’ve seen both humorous online memes and actual vintage photographs of teeth being extracted using pliers. Dentists do use specialist pliers to extract teeth, but in this context we’re talking about the DIY job some people have been known to attempt with lineman pliers and other similar tools. But is that something that really occurs?

What are the repercussions, then?

It’s true that pliers were the go-to tool for tooth extraction for many people a century ago. Many people thought it was pointless to spend time and money travelling to a dentist when they could simply take care of their oral health at home, and there were fewer dentists available than there are today. Drinking a lot of alcohol or even laudanum, and then having someone nearby use pliers to pull the tooth, was a common method of tooth removal in the past. It hurt and things often went wrong.

As a matter of fact, using pliers to pull a tooth is a challenging endeavour (with the exception of deciduous baby teeth). Fibrous ligaments act like glue to anchor teeth firmly in place in the jawbone. Dentists exert considerable effort and precision in order to loosen ligaments and expose jaw bone prior to tooth extraction. They also provide relief from work-related pain!

However, many people continue to try to pull their own teeth. Some people with tooth pain don’t have the patience or determination to wait for a dentist to help them. But if you don’t get the complete tooth, you’ll have an abscess or a dry socket, and you’ll need to see a dentist ASAP. At the moment of extraction, you will probably also require antibiotics. You shouldn’t waste your time trying to do it on your own.

When would you use a pair of lineman pliers to extract your own teeth? An Ohio family dentist writes on his website that the only time a patient should contemplate extracting their own tooth is when a baby tooth is really loose and ready to come out.

If the socket, bone, and tooth are all badly decayed due to gum disease, the tooth may be very loose and fall out easily. However, even teeth that are loose might be fragile and fall out in pieces. Infections caused by pliers can potentially spread to the mouth.

In a nutshell, your lineman pliers are better suited for odd work around the house or office, whereas your dentist should use his or her own specialised pliers for extractions.


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